Geezer Gas

I feel the Senior Citizens, of which I am one, need a place to express their thoughts and goals. We need to be heard, and our voices will speak from this corner.

Location: Sious Falls, South Dakota

I am an avid fisherman which is an addiction I inherited from my Dad. I teach classes in custom fishing rod building. I started fooling with computers when few companies had a computer, and even fewer individuals had a PC. Today I teach computer classes for fellow seniors at our local senior center. I am married to a Master Gardener, so I spend a lot of time digging beds for her plants. I spend a lot of time admiring the achievements of my three sons and their offsprings. Most of all my wonderful soulmate keeps my life alive and exciting.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bye Bye Ma Bell

I grew up with a telephone. Today my grandkids hardly use their phones, if they even have one. Cell phones and online computer calling seems to have replaced the old telephone.

As a kid I visited relatives that lived on farms, and their phone was on a party line. You had to count the rings to know if that call was for you or a neighbor. You knew by the rings who the call was for. When you wanted to make a call, you would listen first to see if someone else was on the line. You could listen in on someone else's call. It wasn't nice, but secretly fun. Even in Minneapolis we had party lines. They were cheaper than private lines. Operators had to place your call.

When I lived in Escanaba, Michigan, I was a member of the local Lions Club. The club undertook a stage promotion to raise money for the club. The performer was Rubinoff and his Magic Violin. He was well known for his years with Phil Spitanly and his All Girl Orchestra. Rubinoff was a soloist. I guess because I worked at a radio station, I should handle the promotion. I must have done a good job because several weeks after the concert I got a call from Rudy Valley, who wanted me to help him promote a concert tour of the Upper Peninsula.

At the time I was doing a morning show on the local radio station. When my phone rang an operator that was either awe struck or excited said, "John, you've got a call from Rudy Valley!" A lot of people asked me that week why Rudy Valley was calling me. I wonder how they found out?

Today the phone company has really changed. Everything is automated, and I hate it. If you want to ask about a bill, for example, you have to punch a whole lot of buttons to finally get to a live person. Their advertising sort of reflects where they are now. Today I heard a telephone company ad promoting high-speed computer hook ups and satellite TV. I guess they are tired of seeing the local cable company promote TV, high-speed Internet access and long distance phone service.

The phone book gets worse every year. To save paper, they've kept the book the same size as last year, but the print is a lot smaller. The Yellow Pages are just as bad. Don't try finding an attorney. In my phone book there are ten full page ads for attorneys before you get to the alphabetical listings. And those are tough to follow because they are squeezed between more ads. I got a mini directory for my office. The print is so small I need a magnifying glass to read anything. With my old eyes it's just too much work to find a number. I now use it to raise my computer monitor an inch and a half.

My wife and I both have cell phones. We talk with our kids and grandkids by cell phone. I can't remember the last time our telephone bill included any long distance charges. In fact I wonder why we even have a "land line" any more. We never use it. Maybe we keep it around as a reminder of how much fun a telephone used to be. And how it was almost exciting when someone called.


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