Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Phone Home

Guest post by Ellen Pritsker

Last week a girlfriend and I took a road trip through southeast Wisconsin, stopping at a spa resort, great local art museum and then in Door County.  Driving back down towards Chicago, we spent a night at a renovated, turn-of-the century hotel in Algoma—a lightly gentrified little lakefront town.

The hotel was pleasant and felt far from the madding crowd. We savored the thick walls between rooms—a bonus of elder construction.  No hearing side conversations, creaking bed springs or late-night television--impromptu messages from neighboring guests in most contemporary motor lodges.

The cozy hotel lobby featured a restored relic of our near-past-- a working phone booth. Memorialized by Hitchcock in The Birds, they were once as common as fire hydrants.  Of course, I pulled out my ‘phone-in-a-handheld-booth’ and captured an image of this iconic and vanishing cultural artifact.

Days later and back in Chicago, I was sharing vacation photos off my I-Phone with my very sophisticated 15-year-old granddaughter. 

She scrolled past the interior art gallery shots and the one of me standing on a lakefront causeway with a red lighthouse in the background.  She came to the photo of the front of the phone booth:  “What is that,” she inquired.

“It’s a phone booth!”

“You mean, you sit inside and talk on your cell phone?”

“Not exactly, you sit down on the little bench inside, close the glass doors and talk on the pay phone.”

“What is a pay phone?”

“It is a phone mounted on the wall and you put coins in it to make your call.”

“You mean, that’s the thing where they say—please deposit more coins?”



I remain uncertain what is weird—the phone booth, the notion of actually having coins to deposit or that fact that her grandmother comes from a world of the past—where people sat down in a designated sanctuary to concentrate on just a phone call.

© Ellen Pritsker

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