Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Trashing Traditional Telephone

Tradition is a difficult thing to release. We all get attached to what is, and fear that which is unknown. We want things to remain the same, and we want our children to understand how life was for us. . .back then. . .

In the 1950s we had a heavy black telephone with a 5-digit number. 2-2922. Sunset 2-2922. The moniker was probably used when making long distant calls via the local operator who sat at a switchboard and literally connected the calls with plugs on wires.

1960s, when we moved back to Pinehurst, our number was Sunset 2-2862. We were on a "party line" of 4. "Parties" were households of people, not events for hanging out and eating goodies. Party lines included the home numbers of several neighbors, so when you picked up the phone you could encounter someone else on the line. It was like the home phones when you picked up the phone, and someone in the family was already using it. Technology hadn't advanced enough, and there wasn't enough wire strung to give everyone a "private line." (Hence the need to listen for a dial tone before calling. If there wasn't a dial tone, someone was probably already on the line.)

People had to pay more money for less "parties." We were lucky, with only 4 parties on the line, there was a good chance the line wasn't in use when you wanted to make a call. Calls had to be short, though, in case someone else needed to use the line. Phone etiquette indicated that if someone was on the party line, you were to quietly hang up, and wait 10 to 15 minutes or more before checking the to see if the line was free.

One of my friends was on a 10 party line - which was the most common. It was difficult to make calls at certain times of the day with so many families using the same line. Kids were not allowed to be on the phone for more than 5 to 10 minutes - even when doing homework. The rule was you make the call, get to the point, and get off the phone. When we were in Jr. High, my friend's next-door-neighbor boyfriend was on the same party line. They could pick up the phone and talk over the dial-tone, or if one of them called a friend the other could listen in on the conversations. I'm sure there was a lot of covert listening to know whether or not the other was "cheating" on their relationship.

I had a friend who lived in another state, who's party line rang into each person's home. The rings were different for each number, so you could tell which call was for you. One ring might be "one long" another "two short" and another "one long-one short" etc. If you were not going to be home, you could ask the neighbor to answer your calls and send along the message, or take messages for you. I guess this system worked well in the 1960s in the rural area where they lived. When I stayed with them, I had to learn not to answer the phone every time it rang. . .

We also had only one phone. It was beige. Phones came in colors, if you your local telephone company carried them. The phones at that time belonged to the company, and customers "rented" the phones. Later in the 60s, one could purchase a phone, and "plug" it into a wall outlet, similar to the ones we have today. When phone ownership was possible you could buy phones in all sorts of colors: turquoise, green, blue, pink, yellow, and in new styles - such as the Princess phone. . .(A phone I always wanted as a child, but never had. . .)

In 1963, long distance was anywhere outside of a few close towns, usually the closest ones on either side of your town. It was amazing to me when in the 1970s when you could call anyone in the Silver Valley without charge.

In the early days, our phone was in the living room. When it rang, my sister and I would run to see who could answer it first. My mom was probably grateful for this, since she was usually tied up in the kitchen, far from the phone. (It was amazing to me, that as we raised our kids, none of them were eager to answer the phone. Maybe it was because it rang so often, it wasn't much of a novelty to them.) In the late 60s or early 70s, we got a second phone for the kitchen. It was a wall-phone, and had a long chord, so we could answer it and still keep cooking or doing dishes. Ours was white or yellow.

Now we had two options for telephone chat, seated in the living room, or standing in the kitchen. We were still supposed to keep conversations short, although now we were on a "private line." We didn't have to be courteous to strangers who may need to use the phone, but Dad still wanted us to keep calls short and to the point. I was a teenager and liked to talk to my friends about boys, dances, school, etc. I could spend more time on the phone when he worked night shift and Mom was bowling. One afternoon, however, when Dad was home, a friend of mine called to chat. I was standing in the kitchen talking on the wall phone. My friend didn't have anything important to say, and was doing a monologue - or should I say monotonous one-sided conversation. She ran out of things to tell me, and was reading the advertisements from the newspaper to me over the phone. Dad noticed that I hadn't said a word for a loooooong time, so he said, "If you don't have anything to say, get off the phone." I tried to tell him, between my "u-huhs" to my friend that she was reading something to me. I think he just reached up and hit the receiver button. Dad's did that in those days.

When I started, I didn't plan to give a chronology of telephonology. . .so I will get to my point. . .today The Hunk shut off our wire line. No more home phone. No more running to the phone. No more, "It's for you" being hollered through the house. No more "Will somebody get the phone?" And no more "We're in the phone book." We are trashing the tradition. We've gone cellular.

So if you need to call me - email me first, and I'll give you my number.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Goodbye, Sweet Kitty

The Hunk salutes the Colonel

On Friday we had Colonel euthanized. He was 14 years old. We had gotten him when he was a kitten shortly after we had moved into our house here on Peggy's Lane. And for the next 14 years he was a celebrity member of our family: a feisty, dynamic, strong-willed, mouse hunter/killer and fearless defender of our home territory. On more than one occasion I witnessed him attack dogs -- many times his own size -- that had carelessly wandered into our yard (before our fence was complete). Once a stray pigeon tried taking up residence in our back yard. That was short lived. I've never known a cat quite like him. Many of our friends had said the same.

Over the last year, however, Colonel's health began deteriorating. He started losing weight and getting thin -- dangerously thin. The vet diagnosed it as diabetes. A few months later he started having trouble walking, particularly the use of his hind legs. Steadily he got worse. As a consequence he became more sedentary. His outdoor time became less and less. He began using his litter box almost exclusively, but eventually even that became problematic. He then showed signs of having trouble feeding himself. It was sad. Colonel was dying.

Realizing the inevitable, Sandie made the appointment with the vet. On Friday I took him in. While I was in the vet's office waiting a voice in my head kept saying 'No - you don't have to. He'll get better. Take him home.' I fought the urge; it was just wishful thinking. The vet entered. After a short discussion I gave him permission to proceed.

I brought Colonel's body home to a grave site I had prepared in our backyard. After carefully laying his shoe-box casket in it, I filled in the void space with dirt and folded the grass blanket back over the site. I then sat down in a lawn chair a few feet away and reflected. Dang this is painful. For 5 years I had kept in my gun safe a bottle of Russian cognac that Kim had gotten me when she, Pete and Mom were in Russia. Sitting under the tree that day, I finally opened it and took a shot.

Farewell Colonel.

Here are some pics of Colonel in better days. . .

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

'67 - Summer of Love (3)

(I changed the name of the Vacation (10) post to '67 Summer of Love (2) - as the title was more appropriate, and it happened all the same year. So this post picks up - that same summer - before my 8th grade year.)

We returned from Vacation early in July. Even though my crush was no longer interested, there was plenty of summer left.

In July and August the creeks and rivers of Northern Idaho are warm enough for swimming, and even though I was not old enough to swim alone, Dad would take me to the creek to swim.

This summer, someone had dammed up the creek near the south end of Weir Gulch. This made the creek near the Bauman Addition too shallow for swimming, but created a better swimming hole behind the Assembly of God Church at the end of Division Street. All the kids my age were going there to swim in a great green pool of water.

Dad took me there a few times, and that is where I met Tom. (Now Tom was his real name, and I decided to use it, because he has been deceased for quite a number of years now. I don't know the reason for his early demise, but it could have been the result of an accident or disease.)

Tom was a great looking kid with strawberry blonde hair and green eyes. (Ok, so his hair was red, but a soft redish-brown, and bleached by the sun. It's not that I have anything against red-haired guys, but I think my repulsion of Howdy Doody didn't help.) Tom was a year older than I, and for some strange reason he took a liking to me. I was a bit shy in those days, so he must have been the first one to swim over and introduce himself. I was fascinated by the fact that he was interested in me when he could have had a lot of girls after him.

The one event that sticks out in my mind was the day at the creek, when he scooped me up into his arms and hollered at my Dad, "Hey, Mr. Lewis, do you mind if I throw your daughter in the water?" Before I could process the fact that he lifted me up, my dad was saying, "Go ahead," and I was flying through the air toward the middle of the green pool.

Nearly every afternoon for the rest of the summer, I would go to the swimming hole. Dad didn't go with me all summer. I think he started to realize that I could swim pretty well, and that there weren't any creepy people to be wary of. I think as long as I had at least one friend along, I could go. Sometimes the Carver brothers would come down to the swimming hole, and I would feel safe, because they were all like brothers to me.

I never had to worry about Tom, and neither did my parents. He was a gentleman. He started coming over to my place to visit, and always spent time interacting with my parents. He'd usually say, "Hi" to me and continue on into the kitchen to ask my mom if she needed help with the dishes or whatever she was doing. Mom used to tease me by saying, "I think he likes me more than he likes you." But I knew that wasn't true!

Monday, September 10, 2007


Inland Empire Girl from Gathering Around the Table sent this meme challenge to me. . .

01. If you could have super powers what would they be and what would you do with them?
  • Ability to allow people to distinguish truth from error.

  • Ablility to keep people from saying hurtful things to the innocent.

  • Ablility to fly - because it would be fun!
I'd use the first two on everyone I came into contact with. I think they would help people to make better decisions and stop creating victims - especially of children.

The third I would use for my own recreation and entertainment.

02. Were you to find yourself stranded on an island with a CD could happen...what would your top 10 bloggers island discs be?
  • 9 Wow Worship CDs
  • Michael W. Smith's Worship Album
My focus would be on the Lord, since He would be the only one I could talk to (and hear from). Any other music would just make me sad for another time and place.

03. If you were a smell what would it be?

Vanilla sugar. Good smell that anyone would enjoy being around.

04. What bird would you most like to be?

Sorry, no bird. Their brains are too small and their lives are boring. . .but if I had to be one, I'd be a humming bird. Who doesn't love 'em?

05. If you were a bird who's head would you poo on?

Please, it's bad enough I have nightmares about bodily functions. I wouldn't want to poo anywhere, at anytime, for anyone to see - let alone. . .feel.

06. Are there any foods that your body craves?

Chocolate, mostly. Sometimes vegetables, if I haven't been eating properly. Sometimes beef.

07. What's your favorite time of year?

Spring and Autumn - just because the weather is more temperate and there is plenty of daylight. Love warm days and cool nights. I love the Winter snow, but not the short daylight. Love the Summer daylight, but not the heat.

08. What's your favorite time of day?

Evening. No more pressure to perform household tasks. I can rest without guilt, visit with my family, play on the computer, watch TV, work on craft and sewing projects, go out for tea and dessert, and sit on the porch to watch the sunset change colors. (Interesting to note, it is also temperate at that time of day. . .)

09. If a rest is as good as a change which would you choose?

Rest. Change is more stressful, even if it is good change. (I love variety, as in a work setting, but change - not so much. We used to move a lot, and at first it was very exciting. I finally got tired of always being "the new person" at church, in the community, etc. There is something to be said for longevity in place and among a group of people.)

10. If you could have a dinner party and invite any 5 people from the past or present who would they be (living or deceased)?

Jesus (my Savior, to be the guest of honor and to explain the questions of life), my husband (best friend), my dad (second favorite man in my life), Emeril (to cook -He's one of my dad's favorite chef's, and Rachel Ray is too cute and perky), and you (whosoever will, may come).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Pinehurst: Eighth Grade

Is is true blondes have more fun?

Blonde was in. Summer Blonde. Born Blonde. Clairol Blonde.

Remember the commercial?

"Is is true blondes have more fun?
Why not be a blonde and see?"
"A lady Clariol Blonde, that silky, shiny blonde
a lady Clairol blonde.
Is it true Blondes have more fun?" [fade]

Blonde was back. . .Marilyn Blonde. Jane Mansfield Blonde. And now it was my turn. . .
I went blonde.