Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

February 9, 2010

Crank Calls

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

We got a crank call the other day.  They rarely happen these days, but I remember when they were more common. 

Did you ever make crank phone calls?  Now come on, be honest!  I will confess I did.  It was always at someone else’s house, however.  My mother would not have allowed it.  But there were times when my friends would make such calls, and then I would feel the peer pressure to make one.

We would just dial a number at random.  It was not hard in those days because there were no area codes, and so local calls all had the same pattern in numbers.  I can still remember a few of the dialogues  “Hello, this is the power company.  Is your refrigerator running?”  If they responded yes, we replied, “Better catch it before it runs out of the door!”  And you quickly hung up.  If you made the call after dark the dialogue was, “Hello, this is the power company, would you please look out your door and see if the street light is burning.”  If the response was yes, we replied, “Then please call the fire department!”  And again you hung up.  Sometimes we might call a store, “Hello, do you have Prince Albert  in a can?”  If the answer was yes, we replied, “Please let him out before he smothers.”  Do these sound familiar?

We put those under the category of childish things.  How silly it all sounds now.  But kids will do this, and similar things.  It was kids the other day who called us.  They called twice.  We know who it is.  It is so much easier this day.  Almost every cell phone and home phone has caller ID.  Wonder if these folks making these crank calls realize that?

There was a “black-out” period when you could get away with these calls.  But not today.  And not earlier in my life.  The first telephone in our home was on the wall.  It had a crank on the side.  You would hold an ear piece with one hand, place your mouth close to the voice receiver, and turn the crank with your right hand.  In a moment, Ms. Bessie would answer.  She knew the home from which the call would come.  She might even call you by name, “Hi, Lawson, Jr., what number do you want?”

We didn’t really have to know the number, we just gave the name.  “I would like to call the drug store.”  In a moment, someone at the drug store would answer.  You certainly couldn’t make crank calls in those days.  Everybody had your name and number!

Then we came to the era of dial telephone.  Now there could be anonymity.  That was the period of crank calls.  But now it is as though we have gone full circle.  Ms. Bessie doesn’t intervene, but caller ID will be the Ms. Bessie of today.  Changes have come.  But perhaps we have come back to the better days in some ways.

Yet, I just had a thought and perhaps an urge.  Maybe I would like to make a crank call.  Wouldn’t it be fun to make crank calls to those computer generated voices that keep telling you to punch a button?  Then another button?  I think my crank question would be  . . . . well, I’m not going to tell you.  It would make me look childish . . . and then, too, you might try to do it!

Lawson

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