Part Three-Space the last frontier …

The topic for today is … the phone.

How it came to be …

The concept of the telephone dates back to the acoustic (non-electrical) string telephone or “lover’s telephone” that has been known for centuries, comprising two diaphragms connected by a taut string or wire.

tin cans



Sound waves are carried as mechanical vibrations along the string or wire from one diaphragm to the other. The classic example is the tin can telephone, a children’s toy made by connecting the two ends of a string to the bottoms of two metal cans, paper cups or similar items. Wikipedia.

And even kids today are tickled by this strange device.

Mom, you are so embarrassing …

Those words haunted me throughout my daughter’s adolescence. My son never cared what I did … on the phone … off the phone … as long as I didn’t expect him to clean his room … he was cool.

My daughter,however, was embarrassed over almost everything I did. I loved to wear what we had called “Skippy” sneakers. “My God, they are as bad as those phony sneakers in Pathmark.”

“They’re comfortable.”

“You don’t have to look like a pauper to be comfortable.”

Time was that my brothers and I didn’t even know we were poor. These days, economic status or lack thereof, is as bad as not having a wide-screen television.

About two years ago, my daughter was visiting with me in Florida and I got a call on my cell … my no frills … no apps … plain-as-a-Kansas-wheat-field-phone.

She rolled around in uncontrollable fits of laughter. “Oh my God, you don’t really use that thing, do you?”

Fine … I confess … it was a Tracphone from Walmart.

But honestly, it often takes me three months to use up 250 minutes.

My son-in-law this Christmas. “Hey, we have to buy your mom a real television.” He looked at me with more concern than he would if I were walking around with one of those portable oxygen tanks. “Does that thing actually work?”

Spear Cartoon 3874

Cartoon credit

One a dark and stormy night …

We received all our phone calls at the corner candy store.

telephone booth

Progress caught up with my family towards the end of the fifties and we got a phone. A “party” line at first.

A party line was a phone number we shared with three or four other families so that often when my parents picked up the phone to make a call, they heard someone else on the line.

“Hey, Rosa … get off the phone, I have an important call to make.”

Rosa was known not to care.

Two years later, in our next apartment, my father went for broke and paid for a private line.

That fat, black Ma Bell contraption was to be used for emergencies only. Or it could be used as a blunt object to bludgeon a victim with one swift blow.


An ad for the blunt object

In short, we had a phone that no one was permitted to use. And as for my mother’s left-handed pest … I could receive a call on occasion and it had better be a rare occasion.

Social interaction for this teen remained the actual one-on-one kind.

In my twenties two things changed. I was permitted to use the phone and I was responsible for paying the bill.

My father had passed, and my mother decided that if I paid for the phone, I could use it. Not that she still didn’t yell from the other room, “What can the two of you be talking about for so long?”

Or … “You just saw him ten minutes ago.”

A few decades later, she reversed the dialogue, “What you can’t remember my phone number?”

“You think you can spare some of your valuable time to talk to your mother?”

Moving down the road …

When is a phone not just a phone? When did technology make the phone a mini-computer, a means of surfing the internet, and a source of amusement with games?

The iPhone is a line of smartphones designed and marketed by Apple. The latest … model 7 is almost here.

My daughter waits for the newest model, orders it and then sells the old one on eBay. It’s like leasing a car … no hassle and you always have the latest model.

Children using smartphones


Cellular phones continue to evolve at such a staggering speed, it mirrors the computer world. By the time you break in one, the next one is on the market.

If you are so inclined, you can add an app to your smartphone to accommodate Instagram. My daughter, the one who is still laughing at me, uses Instagram almost as much as her expensive Nikon. She tells me, it’s the convenient way to get great photographs and not have to carry heavy equipment.

There are also conventional cell phones that lack the advanced operating systems found in smartphones and can’t run apps or other flashy features. Standard conventional phones are usually compact with smaller displays, which must usually be navigated via the keypad. 

And of course, there are prepaid phones if you don’t rely on your cell phone and only use it to make occasional calls or to send limited texts.

For the times, they are a’changin …

The so-called old ways might have worked for decades … but like the horse and buggy were replaced with the horseless wagon and the plane replaced long car travel … progress marches on. And with each step we take, progress takes a step-and-a-half ahead.

Was the fifties the last age of innocence and if so, what harm has come to us, our children, and their children through progress and technology?

No, none, never.

I believe each generation feels their own tender innocence and upon losing it to becoming an adult, looks back sadly and sighs, “Things were so different when I was young.”

Our grandchildren will no doubt tell their grandchildren much the same.

No matter if you email, post on Facebook and Twitter or blog. Whatever types of modern gadgets you enjoy and for whatever reason you have learned to rely on them …  somewhere in a dozen sterile white labs, science nerds are developing the next generation of gadgets.

Tell me if you will,
What was your life before you had a cell phone,
before Facebook or the internet?

Can you think of one thing
ou wished remained the same?

fOIS In The City


Maxine on smart phone

Maxine on the smart phone


Filed under Random Thoughts

16 responses to “Part Three-Space the last frontier …

  1. I laughed when you said you have a Tracfone. So do I! My cell phone provokes derisive glances from total strangers.

    I recently installed new memory in one of my computers, and I formatted my latest book (print and ebook versions) myself. I even code a little. But I live in dark ages regarding cell phones. I can call and I can text.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So, so true, Lindsay … we learn based on our motivation. And I am just not motivated enough to learn about smart phones. It doesn’t bother me that I have a stupid phone … it works fine even if I am with you in the dark ages 🙂


  2. vicki

    Hilarious, Florence! I remember in college writing letters as “it’s too expensive to call long distance.” Then getting a letter asking me if my arm was broken because I hadn’t written in a while and a broken arm had to be why I hadn’t. I don’t understand being with people and their compulsion to answer. A phone is not the be all end all lifeline. And don’t get me started on people at the grocery store check out….

    I like texting and email. Not much for chatting. And the mahjong and gps apps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vicki … Don’t you love the things they said to us? Mine reminded me not to run home if I broke a leg.

      In our writer’s and critique groups we have a rule about cell phones being off. I think it’s so rude to be talking to someone or out to lunch and they feel the need to grab the phone.

      I should have known you would be a mahjong lover … do you play in the real world or only the one on-line?

      Sorry to say, my dumb phone has no choice but to get lost with me … no gps 🙂


      • vicki

        Hi, Florence! I play with a group of ladies. We came together two years ago through a mutual friend and play once a week. It really challenges my brain. I do play mahjong solitaire on my computer, my kindle, my mini pad, my phone… I think I like it a lot. lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • I should have known. You probably are good at it also. And then I read on FB that you jazzercise six days a week? YOu are a dynamo. Oh and thanks for stopping that chain 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a good one, Florence. I think the point is, whether you have a dorky cell phone or an iPhone, you have a cell phone. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have one. It doesn’t matter how modern or sophisticated it is, you got one and that, to me, is the picture. Everyone seems to have a computer as well. Whether we resist using the apps or extra gadgets, you have a computer. We are all in this age of technology, dorky t.v. or not. You have a t.v. That, in my opinion, is the telling story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Patti. I don’t really care what kind of phone. The idea that I can make a call from anywhere to anywhere while walking or standing on line in the supermarket makes it a miracle !!

      And I told my son-in-law I would not be insulted if he decided to buy me a flat screened TV … but he’d have to walk over my daughter’s cold dead body to get it … tee hee 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have to be honest with you, Florence. My son talked me into buying a flat-screen t.v. several years back. I LOVE watching movies and a certain number of programs so I absolutely love this television. I’ll never go back!


      • Patti, I promised myself that when the last old girl dies, I will treat myself to a flat screen. I have a large flat screen on the computer so you can see where my priorities are 🙂


  4. annerallen

    I love my Tracfone with the big numbers! It’s an amazing device. You can use it to make phone calls! I had another more complicated one, and it was great for texting, but the sound would go out for no reason and when people called, I couldn’t hear them. And I couldn’t make outgoing phone calls because the numbers were too tiny to see.

    I’m going to get a little tablet to use for all those other things, but I like a phone that will make phone calls. 🙂

    And here’s a way that smart phones do NOT help. Last weekend I went to a party with a friend who has a smart phone. Instead of bringing a map, she relied on the GPS on the phone. Only problem–we’re both too old to read the tiny print on the phone and she couldn’t make it work right. We went around in circles for over an hour. A plain old paper map would have solved everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG, Anne … I had the funniest conversation with a friend about the large number phones. She insisted it make her seem old. She didn’t want large print books or phones or anything that hinted at her age.

      Me? I’d rather get lost than kill myself while trying to work out the GPS coordinates. I tell people. Please right it down in large print and don’t forget to put in a couple of landmarks … I am directionally challenged 🙂


  5. christicorbett

    My twins are fascinated by the curly cord on our phone we keep for use when the power goes out (cordless, electric battery ones don’t work). So much so that they’ve taken to begging to use it instead of the regular cordless phone. I always say “Yes!” because I love that they enjoy such things 🙂


    • Christi, it’s great that you can give them just a tiny bit of your own personal history. And the lesson is also that in a bad storm, the cordless is useless, you can’t get the cell phones to work and the old school land phone in the wall … with the curly wire … is a life saver 🙂


  6. I remember the first exchange of critiques I did was all by snail mail, Florence. The nice thing about it? “Timely” meant about 6 weeks between the time the manuscript left the writer’s house, then was finally returned. These days, with everything being so instantaneous, “timely” has become a word filled with pressure and dread. 🙂 But that’s okay. I love my iPhone, my internet access, and the fact that I can meet and get to know people like you!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • THANK YOU … Sheila … in all three segments of this series on social interaction you are only the second person to point that out.

      How on earth would I have ever met such wonderful folks were there no on line writer’s groups, no blogs, no FB … no virtual conferences, classes and critiques ??? Never in my life have I had more fun than I am having right now.

      How many of us want to go back to typewriters when a draft meant you had to type the whole thing over. Now you cut and paste and in seconds you can do what used to take us hours 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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