Cell phones have been around for quite some time now, more than 10 years … and yet, on Saturday mornings I think to myself, “I have to call my mom.”
Seems hard to believe there was a time when we waited to call our moms because of long distance charges. That’s correct, all you young people out there. Phones use to be party lines and/or emergency use only.
For those of you who have never had the opportunity to be on a party line, one of our interviews, or maybe more than one, mention the use of party lines. In the first place, having a phone was a premium and then this:
ELEANOR: Yes we had a real telephone. That was there in World War II before I left home a long time. You could ring, three rings, short, short and a long. You were on a party line. Even at times the kids were talking and a man would come in and say “I need to make a call, get off,” in German. Cause you could tell if the lines were busy.
That’s right folks, only one family at a time could be on the phone.
Martha Sayler-Ackerman answers her rotary phone. Photo taken in the 1950s and provided by Ida (Ackerman) Quatier. The photo was taken by Edward Ackerman and appears in Ewiger Saatz – Everlasting Yeast.
And there was a rate for weekdays to make local calls and long distance was extra. That’s why everyone called their mothers on Saturday mornings. The long distance charges were reduced for evenings and weekends.
Even though I had the ability to call my mother every day in the past couple of years – and I did – Saturday mornings still strike a chord with me. Homesickness rings about 9 a.m., the time she called, or I called. We talked for half an hour or more and then paid the price with the next phone bill.
The wait, the cost, the anticipation – all made those conversations the most meaningful moments of the week.
What did we do in the meantime? Wrote letters, mailed cards, subscribed to small town newspapers and watched the mailbox for news from home.
Letters are a topic for another time. If you can, call your mom and have a conversation this morning.