Malachi's Promise "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers...." Malachi 4:6

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Rotary Telephone, the Cock-Eyed Photograph, & the Little Table with Twisted Legs

The Rotary Telephone
Do you remember rotary dial telephones? I'm sure some of you do.... Those old telephones were black and heavy, and they limited how far from the phone one could move when talking because the cord connecting the phone to the wall was so short.

Some of you must remember party lines. Two or more households shared the same line. Each household had a specific ring to know when the phone was for someone at their house. One ring, two rings, a short ring and a long ring, etc.

Sometimes someone in one house would pick up the phone to make a call and find that someone was already talking. If the new caller held the phone too long, listening, she would usually be asked (or told) to hang up because it was a private conversation. I'm sure the party lines contributed to lots of gossip in smaller communities.

The Cock-Eyed Photograph
Who took this photo and how did the photographer manage to take it at this angle? What was he/she thinking?!

I tried to straighten it but found it gave me a headless child and one with half a head. I decided to present it the way it is. I think it's the most crooked photograph I've ever seen.

It seems strange to me that I found copies of it in both my mother's and my grandmother's albums. This photo was taken many years before it was common to have multiple sets of prints made before seeing the photographs. Someone liked this photo enough to find the negative, travel back to the photo shop (or wherever photos were made in the 1940's) and have duplicates printed. I guess it must be as much of a treasure to me as it was to them since I've made a digital copy.

The Little Table with Twisted Legs
When my mother passed away a dozen years ago, my siblings and I met at her home to decide what to do with her furniture and the rest of her possessions. She had a small, light-weight table with twisted legs that I claimed. My brother-in-law pointed out that one of the legs was broken and had been glued out of alignment, and he suggested that maybe I didn't really want it. But I did and said I'd like the table if no one else wanted it. I brought it home and we use it now and then, here and there. Yes, it wobbles a little but not so bad that I can't live with it.

In going through the two old albums, I recognized the little table in this snapshot as the very one I brought home from Mom's house.

And so the treasures are the cock-eyed photograph with the rotary phone, two sweet children, and the knowledge that the little table with twisted legs belonged to my grandmother before it belonged to my mother before it belonged to me.

Do you want to share memories of using a rotary telephone, with or without a party line? Do you have a piece of furniture whose history you can trace to someone before you?

Go to Sepia Saturday and find links to photos and stories that are treasured by others.

12 comments:

  1. I love the little table with the twisted legs.

    Our daughter has a dial phone today, probably circa 1960s. And I have various objects and pieces of furniture that belonged to my grandparents. I even have the old wooden threshold from my grandparent's home. Such memories and connections, too precious to discard.

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  2. I wonder if the phone was new to the family at the time and the little girl on the phone was the reason for the shot. Perhaps the camera was new as well and the photographer, just getting the hang of it. Great post!

    I actually have a poem on my blog about the telephone. You might enjoy it: http://hyggedigter.blogspot.com/2009/11/theme-thursday-telephone.html

    It's not my usual style, but it was for a prompt and I just went with it.

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  3. Maybe The Camerman Was Stood On The Little Table When He Took The Photo?

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  4. I like crooked photos, especially when they allow for such a nice view of some spectacular vintage linoleum. Am I the only one who loves this linoleum?

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  5. I like the angle of the picture, it adds a little mysterious flair to it. I do remember rotary dial phones, and those darned party lines. Seems I shouldn't, but then our little home town was always behind the curve on modern conveniences.

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  6. Hello Nancy, The photo may have been taken by an old Brownie box camera? The children are so sweet, and it doesn't matter that it is crooked. I used to take photo's like that when I was growing up. It thought it artistic..LOL
    We still have one of those old phones and they are so heavy compared with today..But there was no phone in the house I grew up in and I was married for about 12years before we got one. Glad you got to keep the little table. We should love and treasure things from the past.Bless you.

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  7. it's probably crooked partly because the photographer was so much taller than the scene.

    my china cabinet belonged to an aunty and the couch was mums, i also have a collection of old china collected from neighbours, relatives and acquaintances

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  8. A post which is full of memories for me. We too had one of those old bakolite rotary dial telephones (doesn't it seem odd to have to explain them to younger generations) on a party line. I seem to recall that we even had a little twisted leg table like yours to keep it on. And to complete the set I have hundreds of crooked photos.

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  9. i hate when pictures are not aligned properly with the horizon and such, but sometimes, a little creative license is allowed, and even...interesting!! i don't know what to qualify this one as.
    :D~
    party lines?
    nope!!
    before my time.
    but those phones?
    my parents had a "mastic" one, kind of pink-ish if you want, which probably came after the avocado one in the sixties... yuckie anyway!!
    my!! that takes me back!!!
    so much for memory lane!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  10. I think my first comment did not go, but I remember rotaries and party lines. Local gossips eavesdropped to hear the latest, but we kids were not allowed on the phones for very long so little news about our antics were spread over party lines. Today folks walk all around with cell phones permanently affixed to ears, or those little earbug things that look like robots, roaming, speaking to no one in particular! My aunt had a rotary phone still in use in PA, just not the black hunk. When we cleaned out her home for sale last year, we took along an old push button phone to plug in and use. My uncle still has a hunking black monster, dial which he used too;it will eventually be tossed when we finalize clearing his home. Thanks for the memories. And the wobbly table is cute and vintage, I'd have snatched it too!

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  11. I bet they were using a box camera. That made them hard to get in at angle and thus crooked photo. Most photos of me as a kid are at an angle and out of focused.

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  12. We were still on a party line in the mid 1980's. Our rotary dial phone was owned by the phone company and I'm sure we paid for it many times over through the rental fee we had to pay. I think my mother would still have one of those old phones if she could. She has the next best thing, an early touch tone phone - with twisty cord.

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