NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 17)

Day 17 prompt: write a poem that features forgotten technology.


It’s For You

Privacy was not an issue, there simply was none.
I vaguely recall the telephone first being installed,
owned and operated by the telephone company (till the break up),
on a party line shared with neighbors about four houses over.

It sat on a round table in a short hallway near the unlocked front door,
next to our living room, from where all could listen to every word I said.
I could listen back. Wires were straight or twisted, and got in the way,
or we fumbled with them. You only had to spin-dial three or four numbers.

Learning how to dial was like tying your shoes or walking. You just learnt.
Our number was Valley – forty – eight-hundred, and I’ve known that
for as long as I could say my name, maybe longer, like our address.
The farthest room from the phone was my parent’s upstairs front bedroom.

First my friends would call, mostly Jimmy or Jack. Then later, my girlfriends.
Only one at a time so no one had to ask her who was calling. But they did.
We had to turn down the TV so Dad could hear, but that was because
he couldn’t hear. The sound was always too loud. Dad did not like phones.

As I recall, no one called Dad until my half-brother went into the Maine Corps.
Danny called Dad. And when Danny was in a car wreck, Dad was called.
Few call my smart phone. I, too, have trouble hearing. I’m like my Mom.
Socially, I am like Dad, too. When the phone rang, someone answered it.

I remember when the scams and telemarketing started. If you wanted to text,
you needed to put a stamp on it, but it was only a few pennies for a post card.
Mom called family on weekends, and when I moved out, so did I. Sundays.
Long distance cost extra and over three minutes even more. No more.


Look both ways for someone to answer the phone.
Mind the gaps on a party line.

6 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 17)

  1. Great memories, Bill. I don’t remember the party line, but I do remember having to share a phone with my two sisters. We were always fighting over who was on the phone longest with their boyfriend LOL Busy signals were annoying! At one point, in middle school we were each going steady with a boy named Tim (three different Tims!) I don’t know how our parents survived three girls in middle school and only one phone. Thanks for sharing your memories. You should write a memoir 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. EXbrook 2-5429. Had a party line with old man Marquis and his gossiping wife. We’d listen, my brothers and I. I remember my brothers and I also making prank calls and the operator caught us, turned off the dial tone until our folks got home. It was a long wait..

    Liked by 1 person

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