Land Line? The End of an Era…
I was reading a local newspaper that had a short article on how certain things have really been lost on the next generation of kids and yet how some iconic and out-of-fashion items will remain forever. The two items in the discussion were the spinning wheel and the land line. The article considered two things from the past and explained how each would have such a different outcome for the future. The spinning wheel in their opinion was most likely to be part of several more future generations due to how it is a part of our children’s learning culture from things like the story Sleeping Beauty and other fairy tales that have this item as a key element.
Yet something more a part of every-day life not that long ago, such as the land line, is becoming obsolete. Future kids will only hear of this “thing” used “back then” through old books or films but will tend to only glance over that item, not really understand what it is or be able to visualize the item as with the spinning wheel.
For those that may remember them, I, like so many others, grew up reading and was a huge fan of the book series, The Babysitters Club. I was also one of those rare kids that not only enjoyed the books but received my own phone in my room during my teen years. The book series revolved around a group of teens that ran a babysitting business. The way they were able to accomplish this amazing enterprise was due to the fact that one of the girls had her own phone and phone line in her room. This was pretty cool back then but so “yesterday” considering most 10 year-olds I know today have their own cell phones.
Personally, I don’t think kids today realize what they are missing. I was pretty upset I had missed the “party-line” era by only a little bit considering I would have loved to be on that gossip line all the time. How else were you supposed to know what was going on in the neighborhood? I am glad I was part of the generation that knows what a rotary phone is – and much to my chagrin, have used the “sound/task” of that phone as an example in front of a college classroom and was met by only blank stares. But really, the land line is still something that I enjoyed using and think folks are missing out by going from being a toddler to a tween with a cell phone instead of having to wait your turn to use the family phone. Or worse yet, be hopping up and down on your feet as your sister’s call eats into your phone time on a school night and you are just dying to talk to your best friend (even though you’ll see her tomorrow in class)! Ah, those were the days!
One of my fondest memories of being a kid in our house was using or seeing someone use the phone. I mean one of the cool phones too. The ones with the long extension cord (you know the one, that curly stiff one that would “twang” or snap/spiral back into place once you replaced the receiver. The one that when you answered the phone and spent a few minutes talking, you would wind around your finger or try to unwind enough that you could walk to the kitchen. Or if you were wanting a private call, you would stretch to it’s limits and close the closet door on so that you had that small sense of privacy.
Today kids may have choices in the color of their cell phone case/cover or the newest upgrade, but they sure don’t get to have a hamburger phone from the 80’s or those terrific “see-through” phones or the phones with neon pulsing through them. Don’t forget about the Garfield, Peanuts, and other classic character phones we had too! We may have advanced, but our choices in my opinion, have dwindled.
Now I know, I know, we still technically have land lines in offices, schools, etc, but there is something different about them – they are used for a service, not your everyday personal use, and even today’s land lines have become technologically advanced – so much so the manuals are at least an inch thick to explain what all the features and buttons do. We still have a land line back at the farm house although these days it is one of the wireless handsets. Gone is the long curled cord of the attached phone. There is something rather nostalgic about seeing those phones today, now of course a novelty item in places like the Vermont Country Store or in specialty shops or even at flea markets and antique stores. Some day, like the old wire rug-beaters or the hand crank flour sifter, they will be items children see in a museum and wonder what they are. You never know though, maybe like the sputnik light fixtures of the 60s, they will come back into style!