Friday, August 3, 2012


We were getting into the car the other day and v asked if I had my phone.  I didn't and my first thought was to run get it.  We were going to the park. We were having a little local escape. I stopped before I even reached for the handle and, not for the first time, wondered why we must be so connected all of the time.  How have we become so obsessively attached to immediacy?  And why do we so willingly sacrifice our privacy? And at such a high price.

My grandparents must have loved the immediacy of the telegram.  My grandfather would go away for a week, or so, but he could easily send a telegram from his hotel, sometimes as often as four times in a day to my grandmother.  

I don't know when they had their first telephone installed.  Another marvel.  One only had to pick up a receiver, either jiggle the cradle or dial a zero to ask an operator to connect you anywhere in the world where there was another telephone. Mothers no longer had to wait for days, weeks, or even months to hear from their child far away in another state, or another country.  News of births and deaths weren't read, they were heard.  The peace and silence of the home was now, and forever, to be interrupted by the shrill ringing of the telephone.

And one was tethered to the spot where the phone was.  The phone had its own table and a chair situated where one could sit comfortably for the length of the conversation.  Cordless phones were so freeing allowing conversation anywhere in and around the house.  

Even early on there must have been the concern that, as convenient as it was to reach someone, there was the expectation of a response, a reply.  An invasion of privacy.  An unseen, but very well heard, presence in the room.  Life was becoming a bit more demanding at any hour of the day.
Party Lines. Not a party at all, just those shared lines where a conversation, considered private, between two individuals was easily eavesdropped on by any number of people connected to the same line. 

Of course there is the over-riding benefit of being connected.  The security of knowing help can be called in an emergency, the peace of mind of knowing someone is there at the other end of the line.

When at my grandmother's, the first sound in the morning was the shoosh-tick-tick-tick of her daily ritual: a call to her sister, down the street, assuring each other that they had, once again, survived the night and would see each other that evening at supper. H-E-3-1-8-9-7.

In bocca al lupo. m & v

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