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Vintage phones explored at Love Creek Elementary

Students learn evolution of technology from crank phones to smartphones
January 25, 2019

Love Creek kindergartener Jamie-Lei Dunn beamed into the mouthpiece of an old pay phone first used nearly 100 years before she was born.

“I called Ali,” she smiled.

Students in Mark Hare’s technology class made their first calls on rotary phones Jan. 10, when they learned about the evolution of the telephone, from crank phones to smartphones.

Hare brought in several phones from his collection of more than 40 unique and antique phones, and connected them so students could call each other. Excited children moved from phone to phone, figuring out how and when to dial and what a busy signal sounds like.

The son of a telephone operator, Hare said as a child, he was fascinated with phones and even used to install them. In his Virgina home, he has a solid-oak phone booth.

When Hare asked students how people communicated with each other before the telephone, a student answered, “You could text them.”

Smiling, Hare said, “You would have to send a telegraph, mail a letter or go to their house.”

Students learned that in the past, phones were only used to make calls. Hare told students that the oldest phones did not have numbers or dials.

“You had to pick up the phone, crank it and a bell would ring,” he said. “The operator would ask who you wanted to talk to, and she’d connect your line with the person you wanted to call.”

Hare said switchboard operators provided service 24 hours a day.

“But, you could only call people in your town,” he said. “Now, most people don’t even have house phones.”