The Old Black Telephone

WyoDoug

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 8, 2019
Messages
1,292
Location
Cheyenne, Wyoming
When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our
neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the Wall. The
shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the
telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an
amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she
did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the
correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my
mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the
basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but
there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give
sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at
the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor
and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the
parlor and held it to my ear.

"Information, please" I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.
"Information."

"I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough
now that I had an audience.

"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.

"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.

"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.

"No,"I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."

"Can you open the icebox?" she asked.

I said I could.

"Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger," said the
voice..

After that, I called "Information Please" for everything. I asked her for
help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped
me with my math.

She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day
before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called,

Information Please," and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said
things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her,
"Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all
families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, " Wayne , always
remember that there are other worlds to sing in."

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please."

"Information," said in the now familiar voice. "How do I spell fix?" I asked

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest . When I was
nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston . I missed my friend
very much.

"Information Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me.

Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of
security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind
she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle.
I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on
the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I
was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please."

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.

"Information."

I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess your
finger must have healed by now."

I laughed, "So it's really you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how
much you meant to me during that time?"

"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call meant to me."
"I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls."

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I
could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

"Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered,

"Information." I asked for Sally.

"Are you a friend?" she said.

"Yes, a very old friend," I answered.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this,"She said. "Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago."

Before I could hang up, she said, "Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne ?"
"Yes." I answered.

Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. "Let me read it to you."
The note said, "Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean."

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.
Never underestimate the impression you may make on others...Whose life have you touched today?

Lifting you on eagle's wings.
May you find the joy and peace you long for.

Life is a journey... NOT a guided tour.
 

FamilyMan

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
54
Location
Missoula, MT
What a wounderful story. I hope it is true. I plan to save it and share it some day as a "Scoutmaster's Minute" at a Boy Scout Court of Honor.
 

Gunner46

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 6, 2003
Messages
2,863
Location
Frigid Ohio
I know it. 9000 miles away during Desert Shield/Storm, her name was Dot. Countless hours on the com. Never met her, but she had my back when ever, for what ever.
 

Cammy

Active member
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
167
A guy I knew in Korea back in the 90's called the 1-800-ATT operator that would get a GI stateside and save the international charges on a phone call home. He ended up talking to her for a couple hours and never did call his mom. Over the course of several months he would call the operator and talk with her and eventually met and married her. Last I knew they had a couple of kids and were still going strong. Now I have to look him up.
 
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