It doesn't seem that long ago, really. I was in grade eight when we stopped picking up the receiver and hearing Central say "Operator" and then we'd give the number and she'd put us through in some magic way.

It doesn't seem that long ago, really, when my country friends had party lines, up to eight families on one phone line, so each person's 'ring' was distinct and most people listened in to everyone else's calls.

It doesn't seem that long ago, really, when the Bell Telephone Company of Canada (that's what it was called) sent someone around to our family bungalow on Sunset Dr in Orangeville to teach all of us how to use our new 'dial' telephone.

So you can appreciate the look of absolute mystery on my grand-daughter's face as I was describing how you would stick your finger in a circle to dial a phone number, and how each number had its own circle. [Never mind touch tone... I'm not even going there!]

Since we now live in a 50's bungalow similar to the one I grew up in, I'm able to go into the living room and show her where the phone sat, on a little table by the sofa, much the same as it is today. Except we don't have a dial phone anymore. We are likely one of the dinosaurs who still have a landline, though.

Yup, it was right here. And if I wanted to call my friend, Kim, then I moved my finger from one hole to the other, swinging the dial around to make the call. And then I would listen to it ring. And if Kim wasn't home, it would just ring and ring. No, there was no way to leave a message. No, if she wasn't home, then she wasn't home and I would have to call again later. Yes, I'd have to stick my finger in the little holes all over again to make the call. No, no redial.

You can see how it comes to be that Grammas seem so old!

Still, all of this phone use didn't make the connection for this little one. She remained puzzled. "Gramma, how many people lived in your house," she asked.

"Two parents, four kids and one dog," I responded. [one bathroom, too]

"So that's six people, and just this one phone?"

"Right," I responded. I was feeling optimistic. She was 'getting it.'

"Well, when you went out, how did you decide who took it with them?" she asked.

Oh, wow. I think I'll just stick to my cell phone and abandon the whole idea of the 'olden days.'

-30-

Donna Douglas is a Barrie writer. You can reach her at donna@donnadouglas.com and read other columns on her website at www.donnadouglas.com

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