I love old stuff—old songs, old quilts, old cars, old letters, old books, old people (especially old men), etc. I suppose I am somewhat of a retrophiliac, a person who has a strong passion for things from the past. I also love hearing the histories behind objects, and so that makes me a bit of a palaeophile, too.
And so when Phyllis Freeman sent me a story about an old, crank telephone, I couldn't wait to add it to Project Keepsake.
In the Seventies, my family gathered around our big, boxy television set and watched the weekly episode of "The Waltons." I loved John Boy (played by Richard Thomas), not only because he was a handsome, kind young man, but also because he was a writer and so devoted to capturing all of the family stories—something I was interested in doing, too. I remember several episodes showing John Boy or one of the other members of the Walton clan at Ike Godsey's General Store yelling into a wooden contraption mounted on the wall—an old, crank-style telephone. Phyllis' story reminded me of that phone.
I don't actually remember the crank style telephones. Both sets of my grandparents had already graduated to sophisticated rotary dial phones by the time I came along and began plundering around their homes. Remember those? To dial a particular phone number, you inserted a finger in the hole that designated a particular number, and moved the dial clockwise around to a metal stop. When you removed your finger, the dial would spin counter-clockwise back to its original position.
I worked with a young woman a few of years ago, and at some point I asked her to "dial a number for me." She obliged and called someone for me using the touchtone phone in her office. Afterwards, she said, "I wonder where that phrase comes from—dial a number..."
I looked at her in disbelief, quickly did the math in my head, and realized she was probably born in the mid 1980s. It was feasible to assume she had never seen or used a rotary style phone in her lifetime. I explained the terminology to her and she looked at me like I was a relic from the past (which I am, I guess).
But back to Phyllis and her story... Phyllis contributed two pieces to the first collection of keepsake stories. She also writes devotionals and has contributed articles to Chicken Soup for the Soul. She's an excellent writer and a very dear friend.
Her story about the old, crank telephone starts on page 219 of Project Keepsake. I love the names Phyllis used in her story—Myrtle, Minnie, and Ola. Enjoy this excerpt.
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