Can I call you?

During a recent visit to the gas station, I saw what used to be the best option for mobile communication. Pictured below is what was once a public telephone. Now it looks like some post apocalyptic relic from the past, which I suppose it is! 

Funny how something – now bordering on archaic – was such a ubiquitous and useful tool.

I have many fond memories of public phones. I remember using a public phone to call home from the local bus station to let my folks know I had arrived in one piece from college and was ready for pick up.

During a past professional life, I relied on public phones to call in stories during my days as an intrepid radio journalist. I think I still have the little gizmo that connected my tape recorder (yes, tape) to the handset of the phone. Serious mid 80s high tech!

Those of you of a certain age may also recall that we couldn’t leave the house on Saturday night without having emergency change in our pocket to make a call home.

Speaking of emergencies, I remember having to walk a good quarter mile along Route 30 in Absecon to call my father because my (not the most reliable car) Ford Escort had broken down.

While not shown here, a part of the pay phone experience was the phone book. As a slight aside, a couple of decades ago I had a pal who made a decent amount of cash on the side selling Yellow Page ads. Probably not a profitable venture to explore these days.

It’s ironic that I used a mobile phone (a rapidly rotting piece of fruit) to snap a picture of a old public phone.

Well I wonder what’s next? Maybe 25 to 30 years from now, two-way communication devices will be hard wired into our cerebellum. Instead of dialing, we’ll just have to think about who we want to call.

I guess at some point I’ll find something to do with that emergency change I have stashed in my glove compartment!



  1. JP Movieblogger

    Nice article. I didn’t notice how this once common technology just became obsolete without us realizing it. Now that you have brought my attention to it I will look more closely to see where they may still be standing. I suppose they will have to be taken out eventually.


  2. Susan Cooper/

    I so remember those days. How funny that is doesn’t seem that long ago. Here is the funny part about the future. there is a prototype for an implant next to our ear drum that is accompanied with a head set that has a mini screen to see who is calling. that will be our new potential communication form… WOW!


  3. Karen

    Wow! Is it sad that a) I vaguely remember when a phone call cost 15 cents and b) whenever I pass an old payphone booth, I point and yell “Oh look! How cool is that?”

    I’m half afraid of the cerebral telephone. With my luck, I’ll be complaining about my husband not picking up his laundry not realizing that I’d butt-dialed him (so to speak) and he heard my whole tirade! 🙂


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