31 May 2019

Published May 29, 2019 by rochellewisoff

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Susan Eames


Genre: Nostalgia

Word Count: 100


I love to sing along with the Marvelettes’ catchy 1962 hit single, “Beechwood 4 5 7 8 9.”  

            Remember letter exchanges in phone numbers? Ours was Willow 2 1774.  For easy access, it was imprinted on the dial. “WI-2…” My brother added “soff” so it read “Wisoff 2-1774.”  

            The telephone has certainly evolved. Before 1954, you relied on the operator from the one and only Telephone Company to reach your party.

            I’m as guilty as the next person of attachment to my cell.   

            Hey, Baby Boomers—just for fun—how many Millennials does it take to dial a rotary phone?



145 comments on “31 May 2019

    • Dear Neel,

      There’s a video on youtube of a couple of youngsters trying to figure out how to work an old telephone. It’s hilarious. Thank you for your kind words. I see you figured out the link. I removed the “get the code” which I think was the problem.




  • Ah, the irritations of the dial phone. A screwed up telephone cord with a mind of its own, a base that skittered all over the table as you dialled and consequently a stiff or cricked neck from holding the receiver between your ear and shoulder while you steady the base. Makes me wonder how it ever caught on. But at least I’d still be able to see the numbers without my specs… How you’ve taken me back there, and I can still remember my first telephone number – Rochdale 31175.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Sandra,

      After I posted this I wondered how this would translate on the other side of the pond. Nice to know that it did. Ah yes, that crick in the neck. I had many of them, chatting on the phone with the receiver between ear and shoulder and a baby on the opposite hip. No wonder I have chiropractic issues. Thank you for such an affirming comment. 😀




  • I enjoyed your bit of memoir on the telephone, Rochelle. For a while, I worked as a long-distance operator in the 1990s. We had a color-coded computer keyboard. Once you learned it you could put the calls through in no time. For Hispanic calls, we’d say “Une memento pour favor” and transfer to a Spanish-speaking operator at another call center. My husband used to get upset with our daughter who would sometimes call collect from school. He’d ask, “Don’t you have a quarter?” 😀 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure but probably not unless it would be in remote areas. I’d have to look that up on Google. I called Iran once for someone and the young operator, a man. was all excited he had an operator from the U.S. on the line. The people there were supposed to hate Americans but apparently, not everyone did. I had to smile. He told some of the other operators. 😀 — Suzanne

        Liked by 1 person

  • I never used those substitutions, but they were so deeply ingrained in society that some of the local commercials still used them. I can still hear the cheesy song for “Garfield 1, 2323” in my head… There was the scene in the movie In and Out where the fashion model was trying to make a phone call on a rotary dial phone…. That was even pre-cell phone! Oh well, more nostalgia with phones than just about anything else…

    Liked by 1 person

  • Circa 1978ish… I remember being able to pick up the old rotary phone and speaking directly to the operator. We had a phone like the one in your first picture. I even visited the phone station at the end of the street once with Scouts to see the operators doing their thing. It was a party-line, too. Oh, the gossiping that went on. so sinful. I can imagine that it would take many millenials to figure it out, if they could. Then again, the preschoolers know how to use my cell better than me. They’ve taught me so much…. hehe! 🙂 ❤ Back after our year end banquet to write something. Shalom ~ Bear

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bear,

      We have come a loooong way from the first phones, haven’t we? We had a basic black desk phone at home. And only one…no extensions. Didn’t get one of those until I was in my teens. I vaguely remember party lines, too. Actually I don’t remember feeling deprived because we had to dial the phone. Ah well…as Bob Dylan wrote, the times they are a-changing. Thanks for coming by. 😀




  • Ah yes, the old Bakelite phone, gripped fiercely in a sweaty hand, as we waited for the voice of the beloved on the other end.
    Or the endless engaged signal because her sister had got there first and was enchanting her own beau!
    Happy days, hmmm?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Josh,

      Glad you liked the story and took the time to say so. 😀 For the most part, rotary phones are relics of the past. It is fun to watch today’s kids figure them out. Next we’ll see how they do with cursive writing and standard transmission. Thank you.




  • Dear Rochelle,

    They had just changed to the seven-digit phone number when I was old enough to use it. But can you imagine using the rotary phone for my number when it was 655-9993? Those nines were sooo long 😉 AND then, to get a busy signal! Dang it!

    I loved the video of the two teens who tried to figure it out. And kept hanging up the phone every time they started over. Too funny.

    Shalom and lotsa love,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale,

      That video is hilarious and exactly what inspired this story. 😉 Do they even have busy signals anymore? Haven’t heard one in ages. Nines on a rotary phone, your poor little fingers. Y’know I used to have all my friends’ and family’s numbers memorized, now I’m not sure I could tell you one. Ah technology. Thanks for dialing my number.

      Shalom and lotsa hugs,



      • It so is!
        And remind me to tell you a story about a woman who blew a gasket when she got a busy signal…
        Same here. Knew a bunch (still know those ones. Couldn’t tell you my sons’)


  • Like most people of our generation, I can still remember the house phone number from when I was a child. Thanks to mobile phones storing all our numbers, I can’t even tell you my own house number now without looking it up! Used to love those old rotary phones 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Iain,

      There was nothing wrong with those rotary dials. In fact I thought they were kind of fun. Well those days are gone. House phone? We don’t even have one any more. We let it go when we realized we were paying a monthly bill for wrong numbers and robo calls. Now we just use our cell phones. As for remembering phone numbers…fuhget about it. Thanks for reading and commenting.



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Penny,

      According to my husband, the cell phone is another appendage for me. It’s great as a camera. Not to mention I have a WordPress app so I can receive my comments on my blog anywhere. 😉 I even have an app to keep in touch with my doctor’s office. Yeah…I do like mine, too. Thank you re my story. 😀



      Liked by 1 person

    • Na’ama Y’karah,

      Next, we can see how many of those kids can drive a standard transmission or write in cursive. 😉 Funny the things we remember from childhood. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. 😀




      • 🙂 Yeah. I learned to drive Standard because this was what most people learned to drive … and because I was (reasonably) told that one can easily adapt to driving an automatic even if one drove a Standard but not the other way around … So, yeah.
        I feel accomplished and old. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • Love this Rochelle – especially the Marvelettes. Telephone nostalgia, can you remember Life Before Your Mobile? I think young ones find that unimaginable. My Grannie in Scotland live in a village, with a telephone exchange run by Morag. So I’d ask for Humbie 381, Morag would put me through, then sit back and listen to the whole conversation!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I love the way your stories take me back each week! It’s surreal that my 32-year-old son never used a rotary dial. I just asked him because I couldn’t remember. So much has changed and quickly too!! What’s next in 20 years?! Well done on your story as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Brenda,

      What a lovely thing to say. Now the corners of my mouth hurt from smiling. 😀 I don’t know if any of my sons remember rotary dial either. Who knows what will happen in 20 years? We’re already living the sci fi of our youth. Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • I’m a Gen-Xer, so I remember those all rotary telephones, the ones where you hated your friends with a lot of 8s and 9s in their number. 🙂 I’m not old enough to remember letters for the telephone exchange, although we did have a party line when I was really young. Nice look back at how things used to be and how they’ve changed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear David,

      Y’know, I don’t remember feeling particularly resentful of 8s and 9s on the rotary dial. I vaguely remember the party line. Really, the switch to the number exchanges didn’t seem to make that much difference. It was still the same number. Although songs like Beachwood 45789 were rendered senseless. 😉 Thank you.




  • Dear Robin Crusoe W(T)F,

    I bet you grew up with a party line and practiced your mime routines based on the conversations you eavesdropped on. Then you called your little friends and played Chatty Shelley on the neighborhood gossip.

    Keep dodging them twisters,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Friday,

      You’ve been snooping around into my background. It’s all lies and hearsay. So far the twisters have blown around and over us. I did see an old woman on a bicycle fly by, though.


      Robin Crusoe W(T)F

      Liked by 1 person

  • This was fun. We didn’t have a phone when I was a kid, too expensive. Only when I was a teen we got one, and what an event that was. Later, as a poor student, no phone again, we had to use the phone booth. Now they’re all gone and I wouldn’t want to miss my cell phone. Or the internet. Imagine, being able to chat with you all all over the place. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabi,

      Here I am on the internet replying to a friend in Germany. I just commented on a story of a writer in Australia. Not to mention, I’ve exchanged Whatsapp messages with my cousin in Tel Aviv. Yeah, I’m attached to technology. I can’t even imagine not having a phone. You seem to be no worse for wear as a result. 😉 Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • I could believe in prescience – or prophesy. Only yesterday, this song ran (screaming) through my mind, and I wondered, again, where poor lonely number 6 was.
    Our first telephone number was 98M on a party-line with yakky neighbors at 98J. 😯

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Archon,

      Wow! Until this moment I didn’t even notice the missing 6. I guess it didn’t fit the rhythm of the song. Happy to have helped entrench the ear worm. 😉 Thank you for sharing your memory. Gotta love the exchange (see what I did there?) going on.




  • I’m pretty sure dial phones are why America went with “911” rather than the UK’s “999” – imagine how much longer it takes to wait for the dial to rotate back all those 9’s 🙂

    When I was at school we visited the local telephone exchange. All those big machines clacking away connecting wires together… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Lots of memories evoked with this, still I have a hard time with making fun of younger people because they were not born when you had to dial a rotary phone. I don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer” but I would have the same type of animosity toward young people who make fun of older people who can’t text one handed.

    I know you are not really making fun but still…


  • A fun trip down memory lane.
    I remember the first family phone number – can’t tell you it because I use it for passwords – and I also can’t remember any phone numbers nowadays.
    Wonder how many phone songs we could come up with – yours here was a new one on me. There’s the Dr Hook and Blondie (Hanging on the telephone)…

    Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve had such a lovely time reading your story and browsing through everyone’s comments. What a different world it was. I remember calling the recorded messages to find out the exact time – ‘At the third stroke, it will be three fifteen and twenty seconds – beep beep beep.’ How funny is that? Fancy having to do that to get the right time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Margaret,

      At the tone the time will be….that was how our recording started out. You also go the outside temperature. Of course my cell phone doubles as a clock and I can look up the weather channel. 😉 Thank you for your lovely comment that brought back memories for me. 😀



      Liked by 1 person

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