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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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Hello Operator....

Hello Operator

People's love affair with the telephone has been going on for longer than I can remember. In the not so distant past, telephones were all standard black models. When you picked up the receiver, the operator answered and you told her the number of the person you wanted to call. If you couldn't remember the number, she probably knew it anyhow.

The telephone occupied a place of prominence in the home, usually on a special table of its own called a telephone stand, for lack of a better term. This was a tiny desk with a matching stool that scooted underneath where you theoretically could sit while you talked. Some homes even had
special "telephone nooks" which were built right into the wall.

In those days, telephones were often party lines. Entire neighborhoods shared the same phone line. If you picked up the phone, someone else might be talking, so you would hang up and wait until they finished before you could call. This led to much snooping and "listening in" on other people's conversations. There were not many secrets in those days.

My family once shared a line with another family that had a small child who often took the phone off the receiver. If we really needed to use the phone, we would go to the neighbor's house, knock on the door, and ask them to please put the phone back on the hook so we could make a call.

Calling the operator soon became obsolete and new-fangled dials took over the phones. Everyone had to get a new phone and learn how to use a dial. We had funny phone numbers like TRiangle 6-7890. Eventually the phone company gave up on words and went just to the 7 digit numbers of today.

Wall phones, another innovation, were usually located in the kitchen. Curly cords that were 11 feet long enabled one to talk while cooking. Women cooked a lot back then. Then in a stroke of marketing genius, phones started to come in decorator colors and different styles. It wasn't long before you could actually buy and own your phone instead of leasing it from the phone company.

When push button phones came along, everyone again had to get a new phone to keep up with technology. One phone in a home was no longer enough, and everyone had his or her own extension. Some families had separate lines for their teenagers, which enabled kids to tie up two phones instead of just one.

Answering machines became the newest trend and you no longer had to answer the phone, unless it was someone you wanted to speak with. This led to much frustration by callers who were wise to the ways of the answering machines and yelled, "I know you are there! Pick up the phone!"

Things changed so fast after this that it became impossible to keep up with it all. Cordless phones, caller ID, voice mail, and a slew of other services so numerous that it takes an entire page in the front of the phone book to describe them and a technical genius to figure out how to use them.

Shopping for a phone involves an adventure into technology that boggles the mind with variety and complexity. The availability of different types and styles is more than anyone can imagine, much less describe. Plan to spend a lot of time reading about features on boxes.

Camera phones and video phones now cover breaking news. Personal cellular phones are rapidly replacing land lines and becoming smaller every day. Technologies are merging, with text messaging instead of voice, phone access to the Internet, and GPS enabled phones.

It's a long shot from the old black phone on the telephone stand to the slim pink camera phone in my purse or the Blue Tooth hanging on someone's ear. We can scarcely remember how things used to be. Still, the old black phone did have its advantages. It was never lost and didn't require a battery to operate.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss


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