Query Response #2: Telephone!

A work of art. Also, annoying.
A work of art. Also, annoying.

In a recent post I asked, “What do you want me to post about?

You responded — and your wish is my command. It might take me a while, but I will get to each and every one of your requests (even Sarah W’s).


Today I’ll reply to Eagle-Eyed-Editor, who wanted to know a bit more about the phone in my office:

My office.
See it?

That, my friend, is a gen-u-wine 1920 candlestick that I bought from Ring My Bell!, a telephone restoration company in Southern California. Don’t bother looking them up; they’re out of business. Apparently, no one wants 90-year-old technology anymore.

My candlestick works beautifully and I adore its retro charm.

But retro charm doesn’t amount to a bucket of warm spit when a computerized voice on the other end of a call asks you to “press” a number. Nothin’ to press here, I’m afraid.

Also it is impossible to cradle the oddly-shaped two-pound handset on your shoulder, so good luck taking a message.

In order to be heard, you have to speak into the 11-pound base. So if you want to move anywhere you have to carry it with you.  Fortunately, the phone cord is really, really short so you can’t go anywhere anyway.

To put it another way, my 1920 candlestick can be a big pain in the rumpus room.

So I have another phone in my office that I use for interviews and other business calls. This phone does not have retro charm, however, so when it is not in use, I hide it away in my desk drawer.

So there you have it! Be sure to check in again. Query Response #3 is coming soon!

35 Replies to “Query Response #2: Telephone!”

  1. My father worked for the phone company for over 30 years. I loved the phones we had in our house. There was one in every room, and they were all heavy enough to use as a weapon–although I never threw one at either of my brothers. If this were my office, there would be no drawers in which to hide a phone. And now that I’m looking around, I’m feeling like a real slob. Gotta clean house!

    1. The old phones are wonderful, aren’t they? This is not the only rotary dial I have in the house; I installed a fire engine red pay phone in the kitchen. That one is a (faithful) replica, however.

  2. I do love me some retro phones. I don’t actually have one, but I love them. I can see how they’d be wildly impractical in these cordless, push-button times, though. Meh.

      1. I can totally see that. Also, “Now see here, you big mug, you better not blab, or it’ll be curtains for you. That’s right, curtains.” Perfect for embracing your inner James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson.

  3. What a cool phone! I remember using my grandparents’ rotary dial black phone (always came in black, right?) but I’ve never used one of these. You must be tempted to smoke a pipe and drive an old Ford after your phone calls.

    1. The phones of the candlestick era (the 1920s and 1930s) were in black, yes. But by the 1950s gleaming primary colors and pastels were the rule rather than the exception. Rotary dials didn’t go out of fashion until much later — I remember using my grandmother’s rotary (at a time when ALL phones were supplied and maintained by the benevolent Ma Bell) well into the 1970s.

  4. Hello this is cousin Eric, I really like that nifty phone of yours. I really hope you can conquer your fear of the machine voice and maybe even find a way to push the buttons.

    Best wishes, Eric

  5. What do you mean old technology? Those are the latest thing here in merry old England, oh yes, well all have them, I’m not sure what that dially thing on your one there is all about though, I just speak into the mouthpiece in my terribly upper crust British accent and say “Hello operator? Can you put me through to Hampstead 274 please?” But then you knew that’s how things were over here didn’t you.

  6. As a history lover, I simply adore the candlestick phone. I don’t remember us ever owning one, but a friend has one of those old wooden wall phones with the crank to enlist the operator’s help. She salvaged it from her grandfather’s farmhouse before it was sold. Apparently, she can answer calls with it but dialing out is a problem, of course, because there is no dial.

    If I were you, I wouldn’t care if your candlestick phone didn’t actually work. It looks very cool in your office. 🙂

    1. Glad you like the phone, Susan! And it works wonderfully. If I plan to make a call that’ll last for more than a few minutes, however, I’d rather use the uncool phone hiding in my desk drawer.

  7. The candlestick phone, however, would be more handy than a modern phone when it comes to being used in lieu of a baseball bat against a household intruder – as long as the phone is unplugged.

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