Ulster 5-1109* . . .

I know a lot of you younger readers will find this hard to believe, but at one time there was no such thing as an area code.  You just dialed UL5-1109 (or whatever your landline telephone number was) and you’d reach the party you were calling.  It was just that simple.  You dialed the number, the phone on the other end of the line rang, and, if you were lucky, someone answered.

Not so today.  First off, most folks no longer even have a “landline.”  Oh, they might think they have one, but it really isn’t so.  These days, everything goes over the Internet.  There’s no such thing as a genuine “landline.”  We divested ourselves of ours about six months ago . . . and we’ve rued the day ever since.  It’s bad enough that our four children refused to call us on it, now the phone company has gone and unconnected the cursed thing.  No longer does that reliable, low voltage, mini current flow seductively through the telephone lines, assuring us of contact with the outside world—in case of a natural disaster.  Noooo.  If the power goes out, so does your “landline.”

So now we’ve got cell phones, or mobile phones, or, if you’re one of many, you’ve got a “smart phone.”  Big deal!  The damned things are only as smart as the people using them.  Enough said?  Most people our age that I know aren’t as smart as they think they are.  Oh yeah, they’ve got loads of pictures of their grandchildren on their smart phone, but do they really know how to use the thing?  Hmmmph.  Not on your life.  

But the main thing I hate about so-called smart phones is that you never know whether or not they’re going to work.  Oh, that’s ridiculous, you say.  Not really.  If you didn’t charge the thing the night before, it could be out of power, and then it wouldn’t ring.  Or, worse yet, you might have forgotten to turn it on when you woke up this morning.  Again, the same result: it doesn’t ring.  Or—and how many times has this happened to you?—you accidentally turned down the ringer volume last night during your favorite TV show.  Soooo, even though the damned thing is ringing, you can’t hear it . . . unless (and this is a biggie), you’ve got it set to vibrate.  But, of course, if it isn’t in your pocket, you won’t feel a thing, and you’ll still miss your call.

Anyway, after missing a call for the umpteenth time, my wife and I have come to an inevitable conclusion: we’re getting our landline back.  True, it will still fail during a power outage, but at least we won’t have to worry about turning it on—or charging it—and we’ll definitely hear it ring when the juice is flowing.  And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Gimme a call—and we’ll talk about it.

*UL5-1109 was the first phone number I ever had as a kid in Brooklyn, in case you were wondering.

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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at: http://www.joeperronejr.com.
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12 Responses to Ulster 5-1109* . . .

  1. balroop2013 says:

    Wreath of memories, still fresh
    Love for the past yearns
    For a time machine! It would be fun!
    Thanks for taking us back without the Time Machine. Stay blessed Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We never considered giving up our landline. One of the reasons has to do with the “both talking at once” heard on cell to cell calls. That is a function of the tower to tower transfers taking place with delays causing this overlap. Also, with five landline sets in our home, we don’t have to wonder where the cell is if it rings and run to can get there in time. I don’t even own a cell phone. Did a few years ago but in retirement it was a complication I didn’t need.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right about not knowing where the cell phone is. Whenever one of ours rings, there’s a mad scramble to find out not only where it is, but which one it is. It’s almost like musical chairs. The landline is definitely coming back . . . 🙂


  3. Bruce Pfeffer says:

    Hi Joe. My number in Oradell was Colfax 2-2625. I can’t remember stuff from last week, but that number is indelible. We share your thoughts on the virtues of the landline. And those phones! Indestructible. Along with the telephone book, we had the telephone booth, and the pay phone. My dad lost his sight in 1962, and learned tactile skills to use the rotary dial. He was excited about the new touchtone phones, the ones with the keypad, and got to try it at the 1964 Worlds Fair in Flushing NY. Remember the Princess Phone? It was an all-in-one with a night light. As you mentioned, we lost the most important virtue of those old contraptions: Reliability.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah yes, I forgot all about the old pay phones. I think the first ones I was aware of were those in the old Oradell Pharmacy. I can still recall the pebbled surface of the booth’s inner walls and that feeling of sanctuary that you got when you closed the door.
      Great memories. 😁


  4. allenrizzi says:

    I still remember my childhood telephone number as well. Millennials would be horrified to know that we had what were called “party lines,” a prehistorical version of the group call sans willing participants.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was privileged to have never had a party line, but I had friends who had them. Made for lots of laughs. Another thing that is going the way of the dinosaur is the phone book. With most people relying upon cell phones, it is very hard to find someone’s number. Ultimately, they will probably come out with a virtual phone book on the Internet.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bette says:

    Land line? YOU BET! 🙂 We have a cell phone we use only when out and about in the car. I remember the days of party lines and alpha coded numbers, rotary dialing (In fact I recently gave a Victorian replica rotary to my daughter who lives in a Victorian style home. The grandkids (teen and YA) say it’s not only historic, it’s hysteric). It was one of my favorites and was given to me as a gift by my brother-in-law who worked for New York Tel & Tel for years. Ringing in the New Year and wishing you a wonderful 2019, Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for those fun memories, Bette. One thing I neglected to mention was how, with a landline, several people can get on the phone at once (using extension phones) and have a group chat. Yes, I know that the same thing can be done with smart phones, but most people (including me) can’t figure out how to do it. Also, with a landline, you’re calling someone’s home. Once the phone is answered, you can actually request to speak with first one person, then another, and so on and so forth (like your grandkids). With cell phones, you are just calling a specific person, and if they’re not available it goes direct to voicemail. With a landline, you can actually speak with a person (even if it’s not the person you were calling specifically). Oh well, it’s all a big downhill slide from here on anyway . . . lol. 🙂


  6. KiM says:

    Learned something new or um old 🙂 My mom sent me an email this week, I’ll have to go forward it to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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