A pain went through my heart as I thumbed through the yellowed pages of the phone book.
I ran across it when cleaning things out. I flipped it open and found grandmama and granddaddy’s phone number.
Then Aunt Elaine’s and Aunt Mae and Uncle Fay’s.
Seeing those familiar names brought back memories of listening to them talk on the phone.
Grandmama’s first phone sat on this little brown half circle table in her hall.
She kept a doily on the table and old black square phone sat neatly in the middle of it.
As the years progressed the phone went from the table to the wall, to being cordless.
I’ve often watched granddad sit under the old sweet gum tree, pipe smoke hanging around his head asking “How are y’all doing?” on the phone as he talked to Uncle Fay or Uncle Harvey.
Maw Sanders never graduated from the rotary dialed black phone.
It sat on the little table beside her couch until the day she died.
I’ve often rocked in the old green rocking chair listening to her talk to her friend Miss Annie Tunberg.
And I’ve heard her grumble about how long Miss Annie talked, but if a morning went on until the afternoon and Maw didn’t hear from her, she would wonder where she was and why she didn’t call.
There was nothing quite as comforting as the ring of the old phone either.
It didn’t invade your ears with loud music, just a pleasant little ring to let you know that some BODY was on the other end wanting to talk to you.
It wasn’t a telemarketer or an automated service call or any other pretend voice, but a person who was wanting to visit by phone because they were either too far away or let the day slip by and wanted to say hi.
It became the way neighbors could talk at the end of a long farming day without having to crank the car and travel from Randolph or Robbs to talk to someone in the city.
Now the old phone, like the telegraph before it, could be bringing the joyous news of the birth of a baby or the sad news of the death of a loved one.
I’ll never forget stand-ing in Maw Sanders living room the day daddy called on that phone and learned that his mama died.
Today, we don’t use phone books so much. Nor do we memorize phone numbers.
Our little modern computers that we hold in our hands looks up the number for us, allows us to talk, text, facebook and then check the weather to see if we can spend that day at the lake we want.
Oh but how I wish I could go back again and put my finger in that rotary dial and call my grandma-ma.
I wish I could find a phone book from before 1985 and look up Mrs. W.B. Sanders for I don’t even remember what her phone number was.
More than ever, I long for an afternoon chat with all those folks whose names and numbers are on the pages, but today only live in fond memory.