From being a child I have always been fascinated by telephones, 

the other day I had to make a phone call to a company, and heard the instruction, if you have a star on your telephone please press now 

then a robot like voice offers a menu of options 

and it is not long before you are going round in circles.  

A very frustrating and time consuming exercise it is too. 

Nowadays, it is a routine question from anyone who may require your address to ask for your telephone number, and surprise is shown 

when given the reply “ I do not have a phone”. 

I remembered what it was like when I was young 

and private telephones were as rare as “hens’ teeth”.



  My first experience with a telephone 

was when I was about three years old. My Dad was in the Army, 

stationed in this, country prior to being sent overseas.


My Mum and Dad were copious letter writers, which I have mentioned earlier, however, as good as it was to send and receive letters, actually speaking to my Dad, was something I had never even dreamed of.  

Dad came up with the idea, that if my Mum obtained the telephone number of the public ‘phone box, situated at the top of Old Mill Lane, Barnsley, 

sent it to him by post, and then he would write and “make a date” for us to be at the phone box at a certain time and day.


This took some arranging, due to the post being rather erratic.  

My Mum and Dad were determined and eventually it was arranged, 

the big day arrived and I was so excited that I would be speaking to my Dad, I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to work, 

that small black instrument was a mystery to me.


My Mum insisted that we were dressed up, 

and we stationed ourselves at least an hour before the appointed time, 

very anxious that we would not miss THE telephone call.  

The wait seemed like a life time, the time came for the phone to ring, nothing happened, we waited and waited, that phone kept stubbornly silent, eventually a very tearful Mum accompanied by a very tearful and tantrum prone three year old, eventually went back home.  

It was only a matter of yards from the phone box to where we lived in the cottage, we had been home less than half an hour, when there was a knock on the door.  Standing there was a lady who we did not know, 

but she introduced herself as Phoebe Green, 

as she had passed the telephone box, 

she had heard the phone ring and answered it.  

On the other end of the line, was a very frustrated Dad, 

who had been trying to get through for hours, 

hours that we had patiently stood outside the box. 

Mrs Green kindly came and passed the message to us 

Dad would try again the next evening, at the same time, 

and sure enough this attempt was successful, 

and I can remember my Mum lifting me up and sitting me on some sort of shelf whilst I said “Hello Dad”.  We laughed about it for years later, because, the first words to Mum from Dad, 

were where were you last night?


Here is a letter which Dad wrote to Mum, to re-arrange the call.



DAD’S LETTERS - 27-7-42 -   


 Gnr. J. Feeley

As before *

Dear Sweetheart,

I am ever so sorry I couldn’t get through to you on Sun. night. It put me down in the dumps. I was looking forward to speaking to you and our Mary. It was just about 8-45 when I got through. By some lucky chance someone who knew you was on the other end of the wire & went to tell you, but you must have been up at your Mary’s.

If you want me to, I’ll call again next Sat at Better still tomorrow night at 8. I do want to talk to you, not as I’ll have al lot to say but I just want to hear your voice. Tell our Mary I’m posting her chocolate today.

That’s all for now Darling

Your Loving Husband




P.S. Don’t forget my Darling Tues. 28th Eight o’clock at the same place. I’ll get through this time. XXXXXXXXX

I had to make this a short letter, Dear, cos I want to post it for 3 o’clock.


* As before was instead of an address, which he was not allowed to give.

When I first started work in the Town Hall, in some of the Council Committee rooms, there were some of the old fashioned candlestick phones, still in use.






If it was necessary to make a telephone call from a public phone,

 it cost 4d, one third of five pence in today’s money.  

The big pennies had to be inserted into the black box connected to the side of the phone, as the receiver was lifted, there were two large chrome buttons, marked button A and button B,

 if your call was successfully connected the operator’s voice would come on the line and invited you to press button A,

 if the call was not connected the request would come through, 

please press button B to get your money back.  

If a long distance call was made, which had always to be connected by the operator, when your money was running out, the operator would come on the line, saying, “your time is up caller, do you wish to pay for extra time”.



Not all phones in private houses had a dial, 

I once went to visit a friend at Notton, called Cynthia Priestly, 

and they had a phone.  Because they lived out of town, 

then every call made had to be done by winding a handle at the side of the phone, hoping to attract the operator’s attention.  

Eventually she (invariably it was a lady) would answer and ask which number you required, usually these small exchanges were situated in someone’s front room of the house, in which they lived.  

All local calls were free of charge, 

and to make an overseas call was a test of endurance and patience.

How times have changed and methods of communication, 

the internet, mobile phones and direct dialling 

have made the world a much smaller place.


The nearest thing we got to a telephone as children were two well washed tin cans with a piece of string threaded through.  Surprisingly it worked



music "" I just called to say I love you"