doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Whatever happened to …

… landlines?

Thanks again, Sheila Stewart for the inspiration for this post. Recently, she sent me a link to this article.

In Defense of the Landline Telephone

In the message to me, she notes that her household still has one. The article does build a case for keeping a landline; I wonder though how many younger people would actually get it.

Growing up, we had one. It was in the kitchen and when a phone call came in, I was called,

“Doug, phone”.

The phone was on the wall with a short cord attached to it. So, any calls had to be taken standing there. In our household, the kitchen was the centre of everything, including the path to the bathroom. Privacy wasn’t something that we enjoyed. I mentioned earlier that my first girlfriend often got a call from a phone booth downtown so that I could get some privacy. In our household, we pretty well knew what everyone else was doing just by listening to their end of a phone call.

My wife’s family was seemingly wealthy. Her family had a phone in the kitchen and one at the other end of the house. Two phones! Wow – those rich farmers. When they first moved in, they brought their party line with them which meant some lady was always cutting in with “Line please” during phone calls. For those long distance calls, they had a little egg timer on top of the kitchen phone to make sure that you didn’t run up a big bill.

Going to university and then becoming a homeowner meant getting a landline installed or activated at various locations. This technology was also upgradable – we had a wireless phone which we could take outside if we wanted. And, the ultimate was buying an answering machine so people could leave messages if they wanted if we weren’t answering. During early years of Report Card support, it was interesting to listen to the panic calls from people who just couldn’t wait until working hours for support.

The downside was that we had a different phone line with each move and needed to let everyone know what “the new number was”.

Having a landline also meant having a permanent address for your phone and it made the telephone book the ultimate guide to finding people in our community. In addition to every phone number, it had everyone’s address.

Around here, we had a landline for the longest time. I had a smartphone but my wife was insistent that we needed a landline because she’d have to give up her beloved phone number if she went mobile. It was only when I took her into The Source and had a 20-something explain that the number could be transferred to a mobile unit that things changed. She was sold and is just as attached to her new device as any teenager. As a former boss used to say, “An expert is someone from out of town.”

One thing we had to give up by going mobile was the quality of the call. It’s noticeably poorer than the good old landline. And, there are some places where we end up roaming into the United States. Fortunately, we have roaming protection; there are places where we’re just a stone’s throw away from Michigan or Ohio.

Today’s phone is, of course, much more than a phone. In fact, I’d be so bold as to say that actually making a phone call is the least use I get from it.

For a Sunday, your thoughts…

  • the first one is obvious – do you have a landline? If you do, is there something that it does that a mobile phone can’t?
  • over the course of your lifetime, how many different phone numbers did you have? Can you remember them all?
  • don’t tell me where but do you use your phone number as a password for an online service?
  • when you went mobile, do you still come home and look to where your answering machine used to be? (I do; it was over near the microwave)
  • are you happy with your phone reception?
  • do you have your phone connected to your car radio for hands-free use?
  • when did you switch to mobile? What pushed you over the edge?
  • do you feel more compelled to drop everything and answer a call when it comes on your smartphone?
  • Canada was a leader in this technology and I still maintain they had the best mobile phone – what was it?

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this one. Please share them in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning post around here. You can read all of them here.

If you have an idea for a post, please reach out with it like Sheila did. It’s always fun to look back at things.

And, this post was wife-approved in case you were wondering. She did proofread for me and laughed out loud thinking about those old phones at her parents’ place.


6 responses to “Whatever happened to …”

  1. I always love these weekly posts. I have a landline, but largely because it took me sooo long to buy a cell phone. Now I never use the landline, but it got me a discount on my cell, so I guess I’m keeping it. 🙂 Anyone else? I hope others share their stories.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alfred Thompson Avatar
    Alfred Thompson

    Once upon a time we had two landlines. One for calling and one for the Internet. When I was working from home to Microsoft I had better Internet and the second phone became my work phone. At least until I got a really good mobile phone. Today we don’t have any landlines at home. Now our vacation place has almost non existent cell service. Sometimes it works but mostly not. So I broke down and got phone service though my Internet provider so we could order take out. 🙂

    One other story, when my grandparents sold their farm my Dad got the old oak phone that had been in their kitchen. He had modern works put in it and it hung in our kitchen and was use for years. It was a novelty as we also had modern phones in the house as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have had a landline for many years. We use it as our phone number for purchases, etc.. It means that “junk” calls go to that number and we can simply ignore it. In addition, if we are travelling and don’t have a connection to our cell phones, then friends and family can phone our landline and leave a message and we will get updates via email when we have a wifi connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] Whatever happened to … – doug — off the record […]


  5. Glad you, and others, enjoyed responding to the article/idea, Doug.
    I still remember my childhood home’s phone number and the one I had in London, as it is written on an old box we pull out every Christmas 🙂
    I don’t drive connected.. the radio can be distracting enough for me!
    I seldom worry about answering my cell when it rings the rare time.
    We find the speaker phone better on the landline when chatting with family members compared to our cell phones. Our daughter’s use a bluetooth on their cells to improve the call.
    I am trying to remember.. did I have 2 or 3 BlackBerry phones. Blackberries or Blackberrys, in this case? Heh


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