Thursday, April 23, 2009

Positively Prehistoric

Sometime in the not-too-distant past David and I were in Target (shocking, I know) looking to buy new house phones. There was a cute vintage-y looking one that had the push buttons in a circle as if it were a rotary dial. I pointed it out to my 21st-century son and said, "Those were the phones I grew up with. Only they didn't have pushbuttons - you had to dial them."

David's brow furrowed as he examined the phone. "What do you mean, dial?" he asked, with all the professional curiosity of an archaeologist examining some recently unearthed relic.

"You know, dial," I said, attempting to pantomime the action with my finger. "There were little holes where the numbers are, see? And then you would stick your finger in the number and bring the dial around to this little stopper thing. And then you'd let go and it would go back!"

"And then what?" David asked, as if I were explaining a system as complex as that of the Navajo code talkers.

"Well, then you would stick your finger in the hole of the next number and bring that to the little stopper thingie..."

The incredulous look on his face deepened. I couldn't help feeling a tad defensive.

"Look! We only had 7 digits then, all right? And we could go really fast!"

Darn kids - you bring them up communicating at the speed of light and see what happens? David's probably thinking I grew up in the Flintstones Era (What? There wasn't one?), pushing turtle shopping carts and combing my hair with a fish skeleton.

Should I tell him that, when I was little, I totally wanted a Wilma dress?

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28 comments:

  1. I love it! Can just see his face. It reminds me of the time I was driving a van full of teenagers and a song came on the radio. I announced proudly that I had had the song on a 45 when I was a kid. Almost dropped my teeth when one of the little brats asked what a 45 was!

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  2. My eldest recently wanted to know how people got their email before there were computers. I just have to laugh. Come on! It's funny! And how much did you hate phone numbers with lots of nines in them? God, those took FOREVER to dial!!

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  3. Years and years ago, I worked in a park with a brand new visitors center (this was approximately 1984) and our boss would only let us install old-fashioned rotary phones. One day a little kid came in and needed to call home for a ride, so I let him use our office phone. He looked at it for a few moments and then asked in the most baffled tone, "How do you dial it?"

    Several years later, we were allowed to get push button phones!

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  4. The best part of course is that we still use the term "dial" for entering the phone number into the device! I love showing my kids old movies where the people picked up the phone and asked the operator to connect them to a specific family...we're not SO old!
    Pax

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  5. Try explaining how we had to get up and turn a knob to change the tv channel. We actually shared a phone line with other families. Remember party lines? And when I was young, Michael Jackson was still black, sang great songs and nobody made fun of him.

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  6. We had it so hard compared to these kids nowadays!

    It amazes me that my kids will never know a time when you can't pause TV.

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  7. my kiddo seemed similarly confused by a walkman.

    i laughed really hard a few months later in toysrus at the hannah montana boom box... labeled as a boombox. im thinking they were selling that one at the parents, not the kids.
    http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3268862

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  8. Remember when you actually had to stand near the phone because it had a cord? So you'd have to stretch your way into a closet in order to gossip without eavesdroppers.

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  9. Remember how annoying it was when someone had "0" in their number?!

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  10. Yep - those twisted up cords and I remember using a pencil to dial so I wouldn't break a nail.

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  11. We went to our inlaws cabin a couple of years ago. My then 10 year old son wanted to know could he make a call. We said sure, the phone is right there on the wall(rotary dial of course). It blew his mind. He kept looking for the buttons to push!

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  12. That's so funny. All that dialing does seem like a long time ago.

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  13. Speaking of the Flintstones...My students love to illustrate the ethical issues of persuasive advertising with a clip of an old Winston commercial: Fred and Barney standing around while Wilma and Betty do yard maintenance, remarking that they just can't bear to watch their wives working so hard. So they sneak off behind a big rock where they can't see the girls, and puff away on their Winstons. Shocking, say my students, how they used to market cigarettes to kids!

    I have to defuse the riot by telling them "The Flintstones" was originally the 1950's equivalent of "Family Guy." It was aimed at an adult audience.

    What never fails to shock ME is that my students assume *I* was part of that adult audience.

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  14. Sometime last year, my daughter called to me - in a panicky voice - "Mama! The TV is broken!!!"

    I go into the living room.

    "Look, there aren't any colors!"

    And that's how old movies taught my kids about the olden days.

    I have GOT to tell them about the phones.

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  15. My dad had a rotary phone for the longest time. It would also annoy me when I would ask for a relatives phone number and he would say Diamond XXXX. Why not just say the 7 numbers?

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  16. I actually had this conversation with my 9 year old about a month ago. He was fascinated about the dialing thing. Couldn't get over it---actually laughed about it----kids....

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  17. I love it, but I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry! I ALSO REMEMBER THE DIALEY PHONES!

    And, I also remember having a party-line when we lived on the farm (we had to share a phone line with 3 other families because there were not enough, so you had to wait until someone was off the phone to use it)

    Try explaining THAT one to your kids.

    I'm going to go search for some botox.

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  18. A while back my son wanted to decorate his room with our albums. He asked if he could borrow those 'big black frisbees'.

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  19. LOL, I've had that conversation! My 9yo walks around the house when he is on the phone. Sometimes I wish I could tether him with a corded phone! When I told them about record albums, they wanted to see one, and then they asked to hear one... because it looked so weird, surely it must sound different...

    And it drives me crazy that there is only a CD player in my van. No more tape deck option. What will I ever do with all of those cassette tapes?

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  20. For grins, you should tell him all about party lines. And then? Explain how the cord chained you in one place while you spoke on the phone.
    I still have a phone like that, it's the only one that works when the power goes out here.

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  21. Isn't it funny how he never knew that? A friend of mine was driving with her nephew and her husband pulled up next to her in his car and motioned his fist in a circle in front of the window, so she rolled down her window.. he said what he wanted to say and they left. Her nephew goes... "Auntie, how did you know he wanted you to roll down the window when he did that?" The kid has never been in a car where you didn't press a button to have the windo roll down automatically! What is the future generation going to do for that signal? I can see them now, one finger out pointing down imitating holding down the little button! So funny!

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  22. Between the post and all the comments I'm now in a full-on depression. I feel like someone's grandmother.

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  23. Just yesterday, my four year old was asking me where we were going in the car. I said that I wasn't sure, but I had directions. He said, "Oh, from the GPS." And I said, "No, Daddy has that in his car, we're just following directions on paper."

    So he said, "Mommy, THAT won't work, we're going to need to follow Daddy."

    Oh my...

    They really are going to think I'm ancient when I explain the rotary phone. (:

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  24. Too funny! And true. . . it makes me think of my parents telling me that they had "words" in their phone numbers somehow. . . Dad's girlfriend's number was like 74-Sun or something like that. Glad to know that we're now as prehistoric as our parents were.

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  25. I HATED when there was a 0 in the phone number and I let my finger out too soon and had to start over from the beginning. ;-)

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  26. Oh my! I hadn't thought about us having to explain the origins of 'dialing'!!

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  27. When we bought our house 9 years ago, a big selling point was the fact that it has a working rotary phone hanging in the hallway. It's still the phone I use most often, and I just love when my son's friends need to call their parents. :)

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  28. There are still two rotary phones at my mother's house. Operating, functional, dial tone and all.

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