Saturday, January 10, 2009

KEEPING IN TOUCH


The picture above is of something that is, unfortunately, becoming increasingly rare in the cities and towns of America. Two complete, working pay telephones. For just 50 cents you can make a call to some local party, and for one dollar you can talk for four minutes! Does anyone but me remember when it only cost five cents to use a pay telephone (long distance calls were more)?

The demise of the public phone was inevitable. Vandals started breaking into the phone coin boxes, then the phone company did away with the street corner phone booths and mounted the phones on the walls of businesses where they could be watched easier. The vandalism and thefts continued unabated, even the telephone directories were viciously destroyed. I remember a late night effort in Tucson, Arizona, searching in vain for an hour to find a phone I could use. Then along came the portable cellular phone. Now it is rare to even find a public phone, working or not.

The telephone company in Mexico solved the problem years ago: Phones there do not accept coins so there is no incentive to smash the phones to steal a few coins. Just buy a phone card at a nearby store.

The two phones above are sitting beside a Conoco gas station on Bosque Farms Boulevard (NM Route 47) readily available to all who need them.

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