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Share Memories of Your Childhood Rotary Telephone

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think back to a rotary telephone in my life as a youth was probably in the mid 1960’s. My family lived in Huntsville, Alabama–I was about ten years old. I came from a large family with six girls and three boys.? When I was about age ten four of my sisters were teenagers. You know how that could tie up a telephone. There was no call waiting, no caller I.D., no phone answering devices. We had a beige wall phone that hung in the hallway of our relatively small three bedroom brick ranch home. It was a common sight to see the telephone cord stretched like a piano wire down the hallway and into the bathroom. At the other end of the cord was one of my older sisters, more than likely talking to a boy. It would be impossible for any other callers to get through to our house as the phone always seemed to be in use.

On one particular day I remember hanging around watching television. It was late afternoon and time for my father to return home from work. Sure enough the front door burst open and in stormed Dad–he wasn’t happy. With words unsaid he walked down the hallway, following the stretched coilded handset cord, pushed open the bathroom door, grabbed the phone out of my older sister’s hand and slammed it on the chrome hook! Apparently he had been trying to call home before leaving work–all afternoon and he couldn’t get through. Just like the music of the day, life revolved around that beige wall telephone. The telephone number was 205-539-8779. That was over forty years ago.

Eventually he broke down and allowed my sisters to get a seperate phone line in their bedroom. The phone they got was a black model 500 with a metal finger wheel. That phone was always busy and eventually the teens would call the home phone and ask my parents, or whomever answered to have the person using the model 500 to hang up so the kids could call that phone.

6 responses to “Share Memories of Your Childhood Rotary Telephone”

Back in the mid-sixties I remember a black desk phone that my parents had. It had a different handset than the phones in the photos you have listed on this website. The top of the handset was not flat, but was rather “peaked” in shape? Make sense? Have you seen any of these phones?

Mark I believe the telephone you are speaking of is a Model 302. Western Electric manufactured the model 302 from the mid to late 1930’s up through the early 1950’s. It is often referred to as the “Lucy Phone” as it was often seen in the Lucille Ball television show of the 1950’s. Attached is an example of a Model 302 from the late 1940’s. Thanks for your comment!

When I was about 5 or 6, (In the mid-’70’s) I was fascinated by the mystical “Operator” on the phone. I would dial 0, and when she would answer, I would (for some reason) say a dirty word and then hang up. I did this over and over again, until once, I picked the phone back up and she was STILL THERE!! And she said, “You can’t hang up on me, I’m the OPERATOR! And if you don’t stop calling me I’m going to tell your parents!”
…One of those stories I’m sure I’ll tell my grandkids.

That’s a funny story Catherine—thanks for taking the time to share it. What a lasting impression it left on you. All the newfangled technology (caller I.D.) took the fun out of being a kid. There aren’t very many people alive today of the baby-boomer age or younger that didn’t play with the telephone when they were kids. Is your refrigerator running?………………….

My father worked for Western Electric. Even so, when the phone rang and it was long distance he’d always shout “LONG DISTANCE?!” and raise his voice by many decibels… it was pretty funny. He worked a lot with quartz crystals and how to grow them along with other interesting stuff over the years. I remember seeing the first fax machine at an open house at Western in the early sixties – it was HUGE.

I remember party lines, and how all the kids in the neighborhood used to listen in on the conversations of other families on the street. Also, we only needed to dial 5 numbers to call down the block… I still remember most of the neighbors’ phone numbers to this day!

Thank you Barbara for sharing your rotary dial telephone memories with us!

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