How to use this newfangled rotary phone

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AT&T via YouTube (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Even the youngest of you reading this post will at least be familiar with the rotary dial telephone and I’m going to guess that in a pinch you could operate one. In 1950, however, such was not necessarily the case for everyone. So AT&T produced this how-to video. Enjoy:

One of my favorite parts of the video involves the explanation of the party line, which wasn’t always as much fun as the name might imply. In essence, having a party line meant you share a line with another party. And it was not uncommon for that other party to be using the phone when you needed or wanted to use it.

From the video: “Those of you with a party line may lift your telephone to listen for the dial tone and hear conversation or the ringing signal. This means that another party on your line is using the telephone. When this occurs, hang up. And wait a reasonable length of time before you try again.”

My family had a party line in the 1960s. Confession: I didn’t always hang up.

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