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» Wednesday, January 03, 2007More Than Christmas Memories...
...in Holiday Harbour.
Speaking of things we don't do anymore, anyone remember making long-distance calls through the operator? It's funny now just to pop in a number and talk to anywhere in the world. When my dad used to call his sister or his brother in Massachusetts back in the early 1960s, you called the long-distance operator to make a station-to-station call. This meant you'd talk to anyone who was there. If you wanted to talk to a particular person you would call person-to-person, which cost more, but if that person wasn't there you didn't have to pay; station-to-station chargest racked up the minute the call was connected.
People with kids in college or family that had visited, say for Christmas, and then had gone back used person-to-person to make sure the kid/family member was back home safely without paying any money. Before the person in question left, they'd agree on a name, like "Melvin Fastbender." Then when the person got back to the dorm/home, they'd call the pertinent family member person-to-person, asking for Melvin Fastbender. Of course, Melvin was out, or didn't live there. Person who made the call would make an excuse to the operator that they wrote down the wrong number. Person who was called would know the trip had been made safely. The phone company used to have many ads each year, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas, stressing that this was illegal. But folks did it anyway, even after direct dial came along.
Dad didn't mind using the operator, since he came from a generation where long-distance calls were usually associated with bad news and to make them you called the operator, who took your information and then hung up to start the laborous process of making the long distance connection. Once the connection was made, then they'd call you back to talk to the person at the other end.
Of course I still remember party lines. Never did remember how many rings were ours. :-)