Sunday, November 9, 2014

No cell phone, no phone calls

My cell phone is dead, and although I have a land line, it hardly does me any good. Since I know very few numbers by heart, I won't be making many calls until I get it looked at tomorrow.

Tapping a name in your contacts list means never having to memorize a phone number.  Even if you tried, it would be hard to do since they are all just a meaningless string of numbers.

It makes me nostalgic for the days when phone numbers began with exchange names that made some sense.

The upper east side of Manhattan, where I lived, was ATwater 9, so we were AT9-8875. (Really 289, but we always used the letters.) After our parents finally gave in to our pestering over getting a "kids'" line, we added AT9-9089. My mother's jewelry store – Lynne's Speciality Shop at 1288 Lexington Ave. but just The Store to us – was AT9-6919.

I can still remember all or part of my high school friends' numbers.

Pam was (and is) Eldorado 5 -3182. Emily's began with ORegon 4 (OR4-6101). Nancy was SPring 7 (SP7-4961) and my old boyfriend was ALgonquin 4 something or other. (OK, I'll admit it, I still know the whole thing: AL4-2588.) The friends who lived in the Gramercy Park area had, of course, GR for Gramercy.

In a piece in The Huffington Post, Erica Jong wrote,  "When I first started making phone calls in the fifties, anyone could tell where a friend lived by the telephone exchange office in which actual telephone operators sat – like Lily Tomlin as her iconic comic character, Ernestine.

"My family was Endicott 2. We lived on the Upper West Side across from the Museum of Natural History... How mnemonic it was to have Audubon and Academy and Nightingale, Hunter 2 in Great Neck and Tremont 2 in the Bronx. There was Plaza 1, 2, 4 etc. and you could visualize your friend in Great Neck or the Bronx or the lower East Side – ORchard whatever for Orchard Street. Villagers were Spring 2. And my high school boyfriend was TRemont something. I am ashamed not to be able to remember the digit.

"Now New York City is full of people from ELsewhere who remember none of this because they were born in the Age of Numerals."

Almost to her dying day – even when she was sick in bed – my mother prided herself on being able to recite her whole address book.

I bet nobody could do that these days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have launched an unsuccessful campaign to get people to go back to the friend Kevin did, University 5...

Here's to Sp 7, Ca 8, Gr 3, Or 3, At 9, Mu 8, Plaza 3,
Butterfield 8!,