Remember what you used to be able to do with a dime?

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A dime let you make a phone call, in private, in a phone booth. Even with almost everyone having their own mobile device today, there are still nearly about a half million coin operated phones in the USA, although I must confess that I don’t know where one of them is. I fear that this piece of technology will eventually follow the eight track tape into oblivion.

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America’s first “pay phone” was reportedly in the Hartford Bank in Hartford, Connecticut in 1889. In the early 1900s, they started popping up all over America. Sources differ as to whether the number of these devices peaked in 1995 with 2.6 million or 2002 with 2.2 million. In either case, there are a lot fewer of them now.

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For the most part, those phones were in booths, initially indoors and made of wood, and then moved outside to street corners and made of glass.

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Superman frequently used a phone booth to switch from his Clark Kent persona. Others who regularly used the booths included traveling salesmen and people who got caught outside in the rain.

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Kiosks supplemented the phone booths, and many of the kiosks were located near service stations. When I traveled for business, I memorized where the kiosks with the longest cords were so I could actually sit in my car, after filling up, to make phone calls.

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In 1959, a South African fad, “telephone cramming,” or the “telephone box squash” spread to California and then to college campuses across the country. The world cramming record was set at the Durban, South Africa YMCA in 1959. Twenty-five males, who ranged in height from five feet four inches to six feet two inches, claimed that honor. America was able to get to only twenty-two people in a phone booth, but managed to get thirty-one into a VW Beetle.

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4 thoughts on “Remember what you used to be able to do with a dime?

  1. I remember that no one ever cleaned them and they were usually extremely dirty. Maybe I’m just a germaphobe?

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  2. There was a vacant lot at the corner of my block where the owner ( a policeman) built a little dirt basketball court. The older guys used to hang out there and play little 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 basketball tournaments. We younger guys were lucky we might get to play in a game or two and hang out with the big guys.

    Jugheaed’s sister was the most beautiful girl on the entirety of earth. Sometimes she would walk by and we all would sigh. That’s got nothing to do with a dime but sheesh, she was beautiful.

    When the big kids got thirsty they would give us a buck or some change and send us down to the neighborhood store. One on nearly every corner in the fifties. They would let us keep the change. A dime would buy us a Hershey bar or a Coke. Life was good. And she was beautiful. Never did learn to play basketball.

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