Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Too Late - - I Wonder If She Called?

Long before even the CONCEPTION of the cel phone (in April 6, 1929 to be exact), the Telephone Message Bureau produced a lot of advertisements about men answering phones in public places. Curiously they always depict the "candlestick" style as opposed to the Bell 102 (or "French phone"), maybe to make the image more striking.

This advertisement states "you can't phone on the subway. It's too noisy." But either subways have gotten quieter or it's no longer "too noisy" to answer your phone there, because everybody's doing it.

Note the expressions on the faces of the passengers: the man on the left is rightfully annoyed to be listening to the details of Mr. Telephone's house party ("Dude, she was totally DRUNK, like totally GONE, like twenty-three SKIDOO!"), but the guy on the right thinks it's all very funny, and the woman at the far end is just afraid her fox-fur stole is coming back to life.


Anonymous said...

Wow! The service had what seems like bargain-basement prices:

"Subscribers are charged five cents for each message received at the bureau—with a minimum service fee of $1 a year. Fifty girls at the bureau can handle 10,000 messages a day."

There was really a live voice behind the "voice mail" - and real postal mail, too.

Maybe pics like this inspired Chester Gould to outfit his Dick Tracy with a two-way wrist phone.

As we've learned, if you don't dream the impossible, you'll never achieve it!

I like the candlestick phone, since it reminds me of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett stories & movies.

Maybe I can use the old photo to push for cell phone courtesy. Could I convince a gullible offender that it's always been a problem with proof of the pre-cell subway phone? :-)

Anyway, please excuse me - I have to ring Gladys at "central" to put me through to ol' Doc Smith... gotta crank that phone down at the five-and-dime, y'know.

What in tarnation's coming next?

Adam Thornton said...

I suspect that Gladys has retired, so you may not get an answer at Susquehanna 4500. In fact, I'm not even sure how you'd DIAL "Susquehanna 4500" these days!

Much-missed Muffyglob-reader Eric Little did some informal research regarding the French phone, noting that the "candlestick" model appeared in '40s films even though nobody was (supposedly) using it any more. There's a research thesis in there somewhere...

The first thing I thought when I saw the photo was its potential as a "courteous cel-phone" sign. It's a beautiful picture! I find it cute that the phone is actually plugged into the wall behind him.