Thursday, February 16, 2012

I first encounter the telephone

In the 1930s, the school in Alton, New Hampshire consisted of eight classrooms in a clapboard building on a hill, with the high school upstairs and the elementary grades sharing rooms below. Here are the first and second grades, with me as the tiny tot, second from left in the front row, in another treasure from my late brother's footlocker. What I remember best about Alton Central School is a play put on by the older kids. It opened with a housewife ironing in her kitchen; the telephone rings; she picks it up and listens without speaking, covering her mouth with astonishment. Now, why should I remember this? Because I didn't know what a telephone was, let alone why someone would listen to it without speaking.

The last part would probably also bother a tiny tot of today, who has never encountered what was known as a "party line." Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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