Good Ol' Days: More Stories

More stories from readers about life before modern conveniences.

| July/August 2011

  • Louisiana Bayou
    Child had fun at grandparents' farm in Louisiana.
    iStockphoto.com/Kathryn8

  • Louisiana Bayou

Communication Has Made Huge Improvements 

Today, I don’t go anywhere without my cell phone. When it recently went missing for a day, I was completely lost. Before I found it, I was brought up short with remembering what it was like before we even had a phone in our house.  

 

During the Great Depression, a telephone was a luxury that only the rich could afford. However, there was a way to receive a phone call without having a phone in your home. The corner candy store had a public phone in a booth. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the phone number, which was given to friends and family who didn’t live nearby. People could call the candy store, and if your party was in the store, you made a connection immediately. If the person wasn’t there, the caller left a call-back number, knowing that the message couldn’t be delivered until a youngster came into the store to buy penny candy. 

 



The owner would dispatch the first child to come into the store to deliver the message to the intended recipient. Most of us children jumped at the chance to deliver messages because sometimes you made a penny tip. A call-back was always important news – a birth, an accident, or a death in the family. After all, a phone call cost a nickel, so people didn’t just call for nothing. 

 






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