Editor’s note: Telemarketers are still finding ways to interrupt Kentuckians despite the state’s best efforts to head them off.
When I was in elementary school we learned who invented the cotton gin - Eli Whitney; the steam engine - Robert Fulton; the electric light - Thomas Edison, and the telephone - Alexander Graham Bell. I have not been personally involved with the cotton gin or the steam engine, but Mr. Edison and Mr. Bell have enriched my life considerably.
In fact, I may owe my whole existence to Mr. Bell, as my parents’ families in the early 1900’s each had a telephone on an eight-party line, and as they lived about 10 miles apart, the 27-year-old Ervin Baxter called the 17- year-old Lura Beliles every evening. All the other subscribers listened in to their conversations. One lady once asked them to hang up for a few minutes so she could go stir her beans!
After they married, they never had a telephone until after I married. I had no acquaintance with the telephone until I went to college. We had a telephone in our dorm rooms.
When Harold and I married in 1950, and bought a house in Paintsville, we had an eight-party line phone. I remember Esther Richmond and Jewel and Sam Rice were on our line. I forget who else. We managed pretty well, but after our children got older, and my mother moved next door, we were on a two-party line with her.
After the children went away to school, I spent way too much money talking to them and my other relatives. Nearly everybody I wanted to talk to called for “long distance.”
When they became available, I got a “car phone,” but I only used it in emergency situations. I did not tell anybody my car phone number. I knew I needed all my brain power to drive the car!
Where we once had one telephone for five people, when I lived by myself, I had five telephones for one person: one on the wall, where we had always had one; one in the bedroom by my bed; one in the bathroom; one at the computer, and one in the basement!
Now that I live in one room with a bath, I have a telephone land line at the head of my bed; in the bathroom; at my computer desk, and at the desk where I pay my bills. Now I pay for the Internet and long distance as well as local calls on my telephone bill. The bill is the same, no matter how much I use it. However, now that I am 93 years old, all those friends that I wanted to call are either dead, deaf, or demented!
I haven’t been smart enough to learn to operate the new “smart phones” that take pictures and are photograph albums, so I can go out in public leaving my telephone behind. I am so grateful for the blessing of a weekly call from my son, Steve, in Alexandria, VA, and the regular calls I get from Patti in Little Rock, AR, and the daily calls I get from Cathy telling me when she will come by to pick me up.
What got me started on this telephone jag is that lately, it seems that I must be the only person in the Louisville area that has a land line and a number in the telephone book.
This is the normal scenario:
I am in my lounge chair, and the phone rings. Before I can get the (electrically operated) foot rest down so I can get up, it has rung twice. I know that the answering machine will pick up after the fourth ring. I try my best to make the two steps to the phone before I hear my voce saying, “Hello. This is June. Please leave a number!”
The last three days I have been asked three times what I think about the K.E.A. I think it is somebody who wants to start Charter Schools. Once I said,” Well, I was a member of K.E.A. for 34 years, but I wonder if they are not a little misguided about Governor Bevin’s Pension Bill.” Now I just say “I don’t want to participate.”
I am a little surprised when the caller advises me that my my car is no longer in warranty, as I haven’t owned a car in eight years. I am even more surprised when the caller wants to help me with my student loan, as I worked three hours a day for thirty cents an hour for my meals, and graduated college in 1949 debt-free! Another entity wants to get me a better deal for my insurance. I can also give to various political causes.
They also want to help me with my credit card debt, which I have never had any, as I pay my credit card debt when I get the bill.
I love my telephone, but lately it is often a nuisance!
June Rice is a retired teacher and writer who resides in Louisville.
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