The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Helena: I survived corded phones

 

Helena Rodriguez

I was trying to remember recently what it was like during my childhood days without cell phones and cordless phones. I remember Portales High School had two phone booths in the hallway.

Super Man wasn’t the only one to use phone booths.

Back then, you didn’t call people during dinner time. Besides, it was hard to move one of those bulky rotary phones to the table with its twisted spiral cord that often didn’t reach. Or even worse, it was a wall mounted phone. Also, back then, people did strange things like sit down at the table. There was only one TV, and that was in the living room, and so they had to look at each other and even talk face-to-face.

In those days – the 1970s and early 80s – people answered their telephones. There were no caller ID, voice mail or answering machines yet. We had to talk to people we didn’t want to, otherwise, we would never know who was calling.

If the line was busy, we had to hang up and call back. We were fortunate to have two phones, both with the same phone number. One was mounted on the kitchen wall and the other was in mom and dad’s room. Sometimes, mom and dad, or even one of us girls, could listen to a conversation someone was having on the kitchen telephone, that is, if we could maneuver the phone off the hook and place it up to our ear without being heard.

Also, there was a number that you could dial, and then hang up, and it would call your number back. We played tricks on each other that way. One Saturday, when mom and dad were in their room, Becky got this idea to call our own number. We let the phone ring until my dad finally picked it up. He was not happy. I think we asked him if he had money for a soda.

Since there was no caller ID, it was easier to make crank calls. One time, I got a call from Bob McLean of Dialing for Dollars, an old TV show, saying I had won money. I was a bit skeptical but also cautiously excited. But when I saw Uncle David a few days later, he laughed and asked how much I had won on Dialing for Dollars. I should have known.

Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at:

[email protected]

 
 

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