Along with the new house, we needed new phone service. I Googled "phone companies" in our area - nope, not what we were looking for.
So I called the city office in our new small town (they know everything, right?) and a very young lady answered.
Me: "Can you tell me who the telephone provider is for this area?"
Her: "Ummmmm, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint..."
Me: "No - telllllleeeephone. Like the kind you plug into the wall."
Her: "Oh ... like a charger?"
Me: "No ... Like an old phone."
Her: "I don't understand."
I didn't have the heart to tell her the odds were good she was using one to speak with me!
We may be considered hold-outs, but there are many people who still have an old-fashioned landline. Especially in the Midwest and rural communities.
For us, on the farm it was a necessity. When the power is out, the landline always works. We can call the neighbors, get 911 if we need it, and it doesn't have to be charged or get a signal.
I know, I know - we could charge up our cell phones by starting the car, but it's really not prudent to run down the gas or battery when it's 40 miles to town and 40 below. And besides, if the tower's down, we wouldn't get a signal anyway.
Several years ago we went two weeks with no electricity during some brutal ice storms. That landline was our lifeline. It kept us connected to family and neighbors. It also provided peace of mind - we knew if we needed emergency services, a landline gives an exact location.
Not to mention the fact that the sound is crystal clear and does NOT require one to go outside and stand in the center of the yard for reception.
The landline has also made for cheap entertainment (for us grown-ups anyway!). Son No. 2 had his cell phone taken away for a bit and, if he wanted to call someone, he had to stand next to the wall and DIAL up his friends. Amazing how little he had to say with a 3-foot cord attached to the receiver!
When we built the new farmhouse, we asked the technician to hardwire in our old rotary. He said he had seen one at his grandma's house, but never used one. Once it was in place he tried to make a call, and it wouldn't let him. I had to reach over and show him: Slow... go slow... let it come all the way back before you dial the next number. I swear Ernestine (Lily Tomlin) was in my head: "One ringy-dingy... two ringy-dingy..."
Now, when our friends and their kids come over, it's such a novelty that they have to call someone!
Back in the '70s it was a big deal to go to the Ma Bell telephone store and pick out a new telephone. They came in a rainbow of colors back then and were displayed on the wall like a rack of shoes. A completely different experience than going to pick out a cell phone!
And party lines? If you wanted to know who was doing what, all you had to do was pick up the receiver and listen in. One short and two longs - that was my husband's number as a child. Of course, phones came with their own answering service back then, too ... whoever standing closest answered it!
So yes, we did find the local landline provider. And I now have a new telephone - we modernized and went with a push button one this time!