Before bored teenagers were calling 867-5309 in the 1980s, no doubt they were asking Sarah to connect them to Pennsylvania 6-5000 back in 1940.
In Tommy Tutone's day, it was no big deal to randomly dial up folks unfortunate enough to share Jenny's phone number and annoy the crap out of them with your crank calls. But in the heyday of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, you likely would need the assistance of your local telephone operator to prank New York's Hotel Pennsylvania.
Seventy-something years in the past, direct-dialing your desired number largely still belonged to the future.
Confused by a telephone with this round dial thingy? What would you make of a telephone with nothing but a handset and a switchhook atop a blank, black box?
Switchhook! Switchhook! It's a thing that. . . .
Aw, forget it.
THE PATH from "Operator, can you connect me to UNion 7-5309" to teenagers self-dialing annoyance upon a small, unsuspecting subset of phone customers started for most sometime in the 1950s as Ma Bell -- Remember Ma Bell?" -- converted one manual telephone exchange after another to automatic. And "automatic" equaled "direct-dial."
And as crazy as that sounds today, the phone company -- Yes, THE phone company -- had to teach folks how to do that, how to dial up a phone number. Judging by the lengths to which Now You Can Dial went to make sure the worst imbecile could work a rotary phone, it seems the world of 1954 must have had no shortage of dopes.
How damned complicated could it be to dial Pennsylvania six five oh oh oh?
HOW damned complicated could it be to send a text message on your new smartphone?
Good point, well taken.
And that said, I'm guessing you'll know exactly what to get the kids for Christmas. An old rotary-dial phone -- without spokesmodel assistance by Susann Shaw.
I wonder whether you can still get a party line with that. Maybe I could ask Sarah.