Well Howdy! It is PUSH-BUTTON PHONE DAY!
Bell Telephone introduced the first commercial push-button telephone on November 18, 1963. It was installed first in Carnegie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. The push-button phone replaced the rotary dial phone, which had been in use for decades. Customers had to be convinced to use the new phones. Promotions such as this one at the 1963 Seattle World’s Fair, showing people how much time they would save by using the new push button phone vs. the old rotary style phone showed folks that this was true innovation and a new push button phone would be worth purchasing.
Wow – what a time saver! LOL!!!
I was an only child growing up in the 1960’s. To say I got bored with my own company would be a dramatic understatement. As a rule I knew how to entertain myself, but the odd occasion arose (especially in the summertime) when I pulled pranks on the poor people who were forced to share a party line with us. I know – I’ve burst your bubble – I’m not the angel you thought I was. Oh well.
Some of you know what a party line is – but there are some of you who are scratching your heads and saying, “Party line? What the heck is a party line?” Well, it will date me, but I’ll do my best to explain.
For some reason (that I’m not privy to), telephone customers had to share phone lines back then. Sometimes when we wanted to make a call, we’d pick up the receiver and there would be someone just chatting away on the line. The polite thing to do was to gently (ever so gently) lay the receiver back in the cradle – wait – and wait some more – until the other person got off the phone. Usually the party on the other end would notice the interruption and cut their conversation short. It was proper etiquette and good manners to get off the phone when you realize that the person sharing the party line wanted to use it.
Of course when you have an only child – under ten years old – decorum and manners are at times foreign concepts. OK, I was a brat. To the person sharing our party line in the 1960’s – I apologize!
Daddy brought home a brand new teal blue push-button telephone one spring day in 1968. I was 7 years old and captivated by the new “toy”. From that time on, when I picked up the phone and heard someone talking on the party line, I played one of my favorite songs on the push-button phone, for you see, along with each push of the button was a different tone. If you push certain buttons you heard certain tones. Well – that’s like giving candy to a musician and we love it! To me as a 7-year old, it was a musical instrument.
I became a virtuoso at playing OLD MACDONALD and the theme to GREEN ACRES on the push-button telephone. Funny thing is, I don’t think the person or persons sharing our party line was ever terribly impressed with my accomplishments. Hmm… I can’t imagine why. 😉