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The Venerable Telephone Booth is Almost Obsolete


March 19, 2015

I chuckled at a cartoon shared with me on Facebook and it brought back memories.

I can’t say whether those memories are fond or otherwise because I didn’t take part in some of the telephone booth shenanigans I heard about.

I would have thought by now, what with every other way of communicating these days, that phone booths wouldn’t be found anywhere in the United States.

I’ve never seen one at all in the Philippines, where I live now, and I was here during the era when there could have been at least one.

My Last Telephone Booth

The last phone booth I saw with my own eyes was on the Marine Corps base in Barstow, California. That was in 1996. I reason I remember it is because I used it when I was first stationed there. I didn’t have a phone in my room and I didn’t have a cell phone. It was the only way I could call my wife, who was living in Phoenix, Arizona. I was a geographical bachelor. Yes, that’s the correct term.

Back then, a lot of people didn’t have cell phones. I think I bought my first cell phone in 1998, after I retired from active service. Even though the industry now calls them mobile phones, a lot of people still call them cell phones. It’s easier to say.

Before that period in my life, I rarely used pay phones and it was usually when I was stuck at one airport or another. They weren’t phone booths either.

I know phone booths still exist in the United States because people take photographs of them, like some sort of curiosity item. The picture I obtained was taken in 2012.


Superman’s Telephone Booth

Like I said, I chuckled at that Facebook post. Someone else posted an image of Underdog racing to a phone booth in the comments, but it didn’t have the same impact. After all, Underdog is a merely a parody of Superman. Of course, that Facebook post wasn’t the first time I was amused by phone booths related to Superman.

The first Superman movie (1978) included a very short scene where Clark Kent eyeballed a pay phone (that wasn’t in a phone booth) and then decided to use a revolving door instead to change into Superman.

Someday, telephone booths will be collectors’ items. Unfortunately, the only probable way to collect them will be to steal them from where they stand, ripping the wires out of the ground (or wherever they may be).

Photo Attribution: By N9LXI [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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