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It’s A Party Line

It’s A Party Line

Quite some time ago I was a young child living with my parents in a four room apartment, on the sixth floor of a tenement in East Harlem. I was perhaps four or five years of age, but I remember clearly the excitement on the day we got our first telephone.,

For a short period of time we had what was called a party line, meaning two, three, or four families shared one line even though the phones were in different homes. I don’t know why the phone company offered this service. Perhaps they didn’t have the equipment to issue each home their own line, or it was a cheaper for the consumer. In any case it was a source of many hours of entertainment, and not a few arguments among strangers.

In today’s world where everyone, even children, has one, two, three or more phones, or other means of communication, it’s difficult to imagine people having a party line.

You didn’t need to watch soap operas in order to learn about the dramatics of others.  All you needed to do was lift that receiver very quietly and listen in.  On occasion you might even offer advice on a difficulty being discussed, if you didn’t mind getting found out that you were eavesdropping.  There was an art to listening in.  Depending on who was sharing your line they might be thankful or really, really mad for your joining in their conversation and tell you off in spades.

Sometimes people were not considerate and would not monitor the time they were using the phone.  They would visit and gossip with friends for long periods and tie up the line so that others who shared could not receive or make a call.  I am reminded of one time when my mother was good and fed up.  She blasted the people using the phone because she could not make a call for several hours.  Naturally, this is an emergency, was an excuse you could only use once or perhaps twice.  Remember, the other party could always pick up and listen in.

Shortly after this episode we got a single line.  My mother didn’t let any grass grow under her feet.  We got that  private line as soon as it was made available.  Now she was able to call Her girlfriend, Mary Amondo, and gossip to her heart’s content.  What luxury!

While in some ways I would like to revisit a simpler life, going back to the days of a party line is not one of them.

Happy Mother’s Day In Heaven, Mom.  Call me in my dreams.  Its a private line.

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Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Women In My Life


Sculpture

Sculpture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a person given to musing. What I ponder most often is triggered by a scent, a song, a picture. Of late I have been thinking about my Grandmother and my Mother, both who are long gone to the other side of the veil.  But the pain that is most acute is the loss of my kid sister, Christine.  Her passing was within the last few years. I imagine with Mother’s Day quick upon us and the soft breeze of Spring in the air it brings to me these nostalgic thoughts.

Only today I looked at the telephone with longing. How I wish I could pick it up, punch in her number to hear her voice reply with that silly hello when she realized it was me calling.  We spoke very often, especially in her last years when she was so sick.  Christine was one of the few people who ever lived that I could tell everything to.  We laughed, we cried, called each other names, and laughed again.  We had little in common and at times couldn’t stand one another, but how we loved each other.

My Mother and my Grandmother left me with many gifts.  A steel core, a talent for cooking, a capacity for great love, an itch to gamble, a sense of humor, and traits that some might not deem so desirable, dominant personality, a sharp tongue, and the ability to hold on to a grudge.  The last is often to my detriment.  I so miss their unconditional love.  They, with my sister, were my gang, my back up when I needed some.  The people who are your true fans and revel in your successes.

Yes, these three incredible women have left me, but I am not alone.

There are some blessings that you just need to grow yourself, and I did myself a solid.  I have two of the most incredible women there for me, at this time in my life.  Two of the most beautiful, talented, loving, and kind daughters that anyone could hope for.  Each shines with her own abilities and sense of humor.  Both are above average Mothers, caring and nurturing their children, way beyond the call of duty.  Both have busy lives, but always take the time to call me.  Chat, chat, chat, what fun.  Fashion, art, decorating, gossip, health and of course children.  We can make each other laugh and also be mad, but mad never lasts very long.  I am proud that I am always available to hear their joys and woes, and sometimes give a piece of advice.  Oh how we love each other.

Yes, I still have incredible women in my life, and don’t get me started on my terrific friends who are there for me should I call.

My loving husband, unsurpassed son-in-laws and male friends will get their kudos another day.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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