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February 4, 2016

It was “long distance,” and that cost money.


There were no area codes back then, so if you wanted to call long distance, you dialed 0 (“Oh”) for an operator.
She (it was always a she) would then call the number you wanted and patch it through, often by plugging a cable between two holes in a “switchboard.” Toll-free calls could be made only to a few dozen local exchanges listed in the front of your phone book. Calls to distant states were even more expensive, and tended to sound awful. Calls outside the country required an “overseas operator,” were barely audible, and cost more than a brake job. Doc Searls Weblog · The Giant Zero

Posted by gerardvanderleun at February 4, 2016 10:39 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Memories are long. Our phone number in the early 60's was Chapel 9-2701 and it was a *party* line. 1 ring for us. 2 rings for the Shugharts down the road, 3 rings for the Stones family, etc.

I remember picking up the phone when it wasn't our call, and holding my hand over the mouthpiece and listening to 2 old ladies talking. My brother and I would share the earpiece with our noggins stuck together and 1 of us would start laughing. One of the old ladies would say, "Them little bastards are listening in again, if I catch em I'm gonna wail their asses.", and we'd slam the phone down and run off laughing and half scared to death.

Years later, before caller ID, we'd do the "Prince Edward in a can" & "Is your refrigerator running?" routine.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 4, 2016 6:17 PM

In the 1970s I was stationed at Camp Stanley, Korea, as a lieutenant of 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery. My fiance was still in college in North Carolina.

I telephoned her one time per month. Had to go to the camp telephone office, sign the ait list and have a seat. There was no privilege of rank - whether private or colonel, you signed in and waited your turn to use the single overseas-linked phone they had (inside a soundproofed phone booth, thank goodness). A Korean man at the desk manually dialed the international operator, who dialed the US domestic operator, who connected you to your desired number. The the Korean guy motioned you to go into the phone booth and talk.

It cost me just more than $40 to make one 10-minute call to my fiance ($145 in today's dollars!). Since that cost accounted for several percentage points of my Army pay, I made only one call per month.

Email, Facebook, the Internet and everything else we take for granted now simply did not exist back then.

Posted by: plus.google.com/104841162830331053592 [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 5, 2016 8:26 AM

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