There’s a great article in Salon today called A Fond Farewell to the Hard-Wired Phone, featuring a sweet set of pictures and videos from the design site Imprint of a product our generation will be the last to use. I’ve always had a bit of a telephone fetish – I learned to wire the old ones, and was one of the first of my friends to get a cell phone (even if it never worked, basically, anywhere).
But here’s where past and future collide: cell phones fucking suck. We have become so used to terrible, expensive service that we no longer even complain about it. America is the beaten wife of the wireless industry, and no amount of Fruit Ninja will change it. So we have never let go of our landline anywhere, having learned our lesson from countless dropped calls during important meetings, and more importantly, during 9/11 when cell service ground to a halt.
But if you’re going to have a landline, you have to have at least one “wired to the wall” connection in case the power goes out, so I decided to recreate the phones I had as a kid. Sadly, the one I grew up with in Iowa circa 1976 was “avocado” colored, and I just couldn’t face it, so instead I found a pink one and rehabbed it:
It sits upstairs at the farm and sounds better than any phone I’ve used since high school. And the round number card in the middle is our actual number, based on the old exchanges in upstate New York circa 1948, when all phone numbers used to begin with two letters:
hence, PEnnsylvania 6-5000
I simply took the old phone card, scanned it, Photoshopped new info on it, printed it, and voilà! Instant retro preciousness! I did the same thing with the phone downstairs, an exact replica of the “harvest gold” touch-tone phone we had in our piano room in 1979:
Not to be a Luddite or a grumpy “get off my lawn” piss’n’vinegar old fart, but I feel like there might be something lost when you can no longer see the fragile tether that binds you to technology. Lucy occasionally uses these analog phones, and without being told, she’ll have a sense of being connected by a wire that inexorably links her to the ones she loves. Not everything should be in the cloud, wispy, invisible in the ether.
George and Mary, finally forced to fall in love by sharing a tiny wire