Inspired by this photo, here’s a story I wrote. Thanks for taking the time to read it.
I enjoyed chatting with you today. It’s always great to hear your voice and share what’s new in our lives. It reminded me of this family story, which you may not have heard before.
Last century, your grandparents signed up for a telephone service. The handset was black and was the property of the Federal Government’s Postmaster-General’s Department. You couldn’t buy your own phone in those days (I know that’s difficult for you to comprehend!).
It had a prominent position in the entrance hall, with its own table, close to the door of the main bedroom. Everyone in the street knew when it was installed and, after that, we often had neighbours asking if they could convey an urgent message or receive news from the other side of the city.
For your grandfather, an early adopter and lover of all technology, this was a valuable tool to stay connected. He encouraged others in his family to have one but many couldn’t afford it at that time.
For your grandmother, it gave her bragging rights. It made her feel important and ‘better’ than others in her family – proof that she had married well. Perhaps that doesn’t seem a charitable thing to say but really, you had to be there to hear her flaunt it.
It was a lifeline, that telephone, and used more than once to call an ambulance for worried neighbours. I don’t suppose you, growing up with so many means of instant communication, can appreciate the impact that single appliance had at the time.
That lifeline brought the family closer to their neighbours and, even after phone connections became more widespread, it still continued to provide a sense of community.
So, add this to your collection of family anecdotes, Lucy. As you gather these stories you can better appreciate the quirks of families!
With love, your aunt Fleur.