Past and Present by Debra H. Goldstein
Do you remember when telephones rang? When rotary dialed objects sat on a table or hung on a wall made a ring sound? Was it that long ago before we relied on phones that fit in our purses or pockets and have individualized ringtones?
I didn’t think it was.
Or at least I didn’t think it was until I recently read two articles. The first one, in last week’s TV Guide, was a story about the television show, Young Sheldon. The second, an article dated February 16, 2018, commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the first 9-1-1 call.
According to the showrunners, because Young Sheldon is set in 1989, the set and props must be appropriate to the time. This has caused some comical problems with the show’s nine-year-old star, Ian Armitage. The most recent problem occurred when the script required Ian to make a telephone call. The prop master handed him a rotary phone and he stared at it. He had never seen one and didn’t know how it worked. After he was shown how to dial the phone, taping began. Moments later, the director called “Cut.” Ian didn’t know that in 1989 only seven digits or rotations were needed to dial a phone number.
The second article recounted how on February 16, 1968, at two p.m., the first 9-1-1 call in the United States was made in Haleyville, Alabama. Haleyville’s state Representative Rankin Fite placed the call from Mayor James Whitt’s office to the Haleyville police station where U.S. Representative Tom Bevill answered it on a red telephone given to the city by the Alabama Telephone Company.
I can’t remember a time there wasn’t 9-1-1, but I can remember rotary phones, manual and then electric typewriters, main frame computers, the first Mac, and the New York World’s Fair’s G.E. Exhibit of what the future would bring. FYI, all of the things demonstrated at that exhibit have come to be and, things that existed, like the 1989 rotary phone or the red phone are now in the Smithsonian.
Tell me, what are you surprised to hear nine-year-olds like Ian have never seen – and what do you miss?