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The Telephone Song and Dance

October 26, 2011

There are a few folks out there that can remember when Grandma’s phone was on the wall, and you cranked the handle to get the operator’s attention. You spoke into a mouthpiece shaped like a small megaphone to get the operator on the line. The operator plugged a cord into the right slot, and ~ voila ~ you were talking to the next town! In my mind’s eye, I can see the hands doing these tasks: cranking, pulling and plugging cords.

It wasn’t long before the telephone evolved to the dial. Rotary phones lasted many years, and had lots of different styles. There were desk phones, wall phones, pay phones, princess phones, and phones with the dial under the base. So many different styles emerged, but they all had that rotary dial, AND they were all attached to the wall with a cord! Cords got longer, fancier, and curlier, but you were still tethered to the wall! Dialing! Do you recall putting your finger in the proper hole on the finger wheel, dialing by rotating the disk, and listening to it spin back before dialing the next number.  Zip ….. zurrrrrrrr, zip….  Zurrrrrr……..  

Then came the push button phone. You could "dial" a number so much faster by pressing those buttons in place of the fingerwheel. Mostly, they made no noise except the gentle click, click of your finger brushing the buttons. Click, click, click. Crank, zip, zurrr, click, click, click (almost like a song!)

When we entered the age of the wireless phone, we went from sounds to motions. Now, you watched your neighbor wander around their front yard talking on their phone. They didn’t wander far lest they roamed out of range, but they wandered. Wireless led us to cell phones and more new motions. We flip phones open, walked with our hand to our ear (like we had an earache), and dialed with our thumb. This led to texting (often done with two thumbs). Newer versions allow us to talk into our open palm as we balance the phone in our hand like we are having a discussion with our hand. The latest gesture requires you to flick at your phone screen like turning a page or expanding the view (which is what you are doing – but it looks a little strange).

From song to dance, we brought the phones into the 21st century:
crank, zip, zurrr, click, click, click
wander, flip, thumbs, flick, flick, flick

Laura C.
Smithville Branch

Tags: telephones, cell phones

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