By Rose Nolen Contributing Columnist
March 21, 2014
Telephones have changed a lot. They used to hang on a rack in the corner and you had to deposit coins in them to make them work. They were real handy for keeping in touch, though. As long as you had the right change in your pocket you could always let somebody know where you were.
I didn’t realize how much difference they made in terms of personal safety. I was walking down the street by myself in Manhattan and when I looked around I felt that I was surrounded by a crowd of people. Suddenly, I realized people were all talking on telephones and none of us were alone. The exciting thing was, we didn’t need money to get in touch with anybody.
This was the first time I felt that I was safe with a telephone. Thinking it over one day, actually, I think I was an adult before I forgot the first telephone number my family had. It was an old dial phone and our number was 3232. You first had to speak to the operator and then give her the number you wanted. I remember many years later buying an old telephone like the one we had at a rummage sale. I hung on to it for a long time.
Now that almost everyone has a cellphone I never think about how much safer we all are because of that. Even little children have their own phones. So, most of the time, they have company to walk home from school.
When one is grown up, there always seems to be something special about the things you had as a child. I think I kept my first pair of roller skates for years before I was able to part with them. I believe I was in high school before I finally threw them away. That old key was still tied to my shoe string when I threw it in the trash.
In any case I was always slow about throwing things away. The month before Christmas our mother used to sit a box outside our rooms where we were supposed to deposit our old worn out Christmas toys to be thrown away. It would take us a week for her to make sure we had thrown everything away. It seemed like somebody always had some reason for keeping something.
I was the only girl in my family who hated dolls. I preferred to play with my older brother and of course, he didn’t play with dolls. I was an expert at trading my dolls off to get rid of them. Every season of the year I had a rummage sale until I could get rid of the dolls. I forever avoided doll conversations with my mother for fear she would find out about my dislike so I never really knew if she cared about my little fib.
I still like being near a telephone. It makes me feel safe knowing the whole world is just a phone call away.