captainsblog (captainsblog) wrote,
captainsblog
captainsblog

PEnnsylvania 6-5000!

I just came across a genuine artifact, only it's one I can't sell on eBay.

A friend is fighting with a merchant (and with his own credit card company) over a charge for which he believes he's owed a refund. It's in another state, so I can't represent him in actual court proceedings there, but I did run down the information on how he can file his own small claims case against the merchant.  At the end of the total dullness of writs and prothonotaries (which to me has always evoked images of someone sticking an ink stamp up my ass), I found this helpful note on contacting the court for further information:

SMALL CLAIMS COURT IS A DIVISION OF
MUNICIPAL COURT. THE TELEPHONE
NUMBER IS MU6-7987.

I doubt anyone under the age of 30 has ever seen such a reference in regular daily usage. For us older farts, though, it brings back memories of when you actually DID "dial the phone."

This is what my phone dial looked like in my first home growing up, and other than the center, in every other home I've had prior to this one:



Touchtone service was just that- a service, one for which you paid extra, every month, even though it was cheaper and more efficient for The Phone Company (TPC, to anyone who's ever seen The President's Analyst) to process the calls with tones rather than the clicks produced by these dials.

It's the center of that dial, though, that tells the tale brought back to me by the MU6 number. To a whole generation of New Yorkers, that meant MUrray Hill 6. It added a certain cachet to the number you gave out. Everybody just KNEW that you only dialed the first two letters and that one number after the phrase. Others in circulation near us were our own IVanhoe 9, my sister's SUsquehanna 5, and the ones made famous by Glenn Miller and Elizabeth Taylor. Even the ubiquitous 555 exchange used in movies (because any combination with that exchange rang only Directory Assistance) had a KLondike 5 counterpart that you'll still see on some old films and television reruns.

TPC found that these naming conventions limited the number of choices they could dish out, so by the 1960s, we started seeing all-digit exchanges for the first time; half of my home town was summarily switched from IVanhoes to the NobodyHoes of a 794 exchange. New Yorkers, though, are famous for resisting such changes, as anyone on Sixth Avenue will tell you, and by the 1980s, letters remained entrenched on telephone keypads as much as they had ever been on dials. Newer phones even had to account for the Q and the Z, which the original format saw no need to give out.  These mostly accommodate things like 1-800-FLOWERS and that lot, but I still see the occasional reference to the older way of doing things- just never before on a computerized court document.

So what say you? Do you remember your IVanhoe or MUrray Hill number? Do people near you still use such things? Or am I just babbling endlessly and to no good purpose?
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