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National and Global, United States

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Party Line...

I don't know about you, but if you were like me growing up, you had what was called a 'party line'. Basically, a telephone line that was connected to up four other homes. My phone number was SUnset 9-7852. I'll never forget it. You could listen in to other homes conversations, or just wait for your turn to get the dial tone. We didn't worry about wire tapes, or the IRS or FBI or Homeland Security. If you wanted to listen to our conversations, well, have a good time. We did however, take each other's privacy seriously. If someone was on the party line, we'd simply say 'hello' and hang up. It was all  pretty simple.

The phone in any case, was NOT our primary means of communications. In my case, you went outside and yelled for whoever you wanted to talk to. "Yo, Vinnie, where are ya?" And Vinnie would answer: "I'm over Marie's house". My father would simply whistle. I knew it was him. That was it. Simple, straightforward, honest communications. No complications.

 For $5 or $6.  per month you were able to rotary dial anywhere in the area code, which was pretty large at that time. Come to think, I don't recall 'area codes'.

At that time, long distance was very expensive, and  you had to go through a long distance operator. But the fact was, we didn't make long distance calls. We didn't know anyone outside of a four block area anyway.  So it really didn't matter. If someone was 'long distance' we sent them a handwritten letter.

I just looked at my combined phone bill for basic, cell, internet. It came to over $250. for the month.  I thought: I actually knew more people back then, then I do now. At least more people I wanted to talk to.  And the fact is, I know less people within a four block area today, then I did when I was growing up. If I would yell out my backdoor for someone, they'd probably call the police.

I was just thinking. I've got a problem with progress like this, that doesn't really add anything to my world experience, except an extraordinarily larger monthly bill to offer me the ability to talk to people that I probably don't want to talk to anyway. Now, how do you 'reverse the charges'? Yo Vinnie, you there?

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