TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Color 3 Slot Payphones; Phones on Brady Bunch

Re: Color 3 Slot Payphones; Phones on Brady Bunch
26 Jul 2006 08:33:08 -0700

Anthony Bellanga wrote:

> Mike Brady puts in a payphone line for the kids
> to use, since they were hogging the one phone for the entire family,
> and running up huge bills.

IIRC, that episode was discussed here on the newsgroup not long ago.

Some places had tarffis which allowed homes to pay phones instead of
regular service. But normally Bell then and now requires a minimum
usage to support a pay phone line, otherwise the properrty owner must
make it up. If usage exceeds (such as from toll calls), the owner
(then and now) received a comission check.

Many small businesses had an extension to a pay phone. In those
places the pay phone had a plastic flipcap over the coin slot "Listen
first to see if line is in use". The extension was non dial. I think
these were known as "semi public" stations.

One reason credit card rates from pay phones is so high is that the
property owner makes money off of them.

I noticed that phones at SEPTA stations no longer accept 1+ coin
calls. They used to for $1.00/minute. I guess SEPTA wants more money
from them.

I've learned that some transit agencies purposely have pay phones at
their stations to serve as emergency 911 phones. They are apparently
willing to pay for low usage, but this is still cheaper than providing
a direct emergency line

On the new NJ Transit River Line, every station platform has a pay
phone. I thought that was strange in a time everyone has cell phones,
but they're more for 911 use if needed. Of course people can use them
for regular calls and some do. (I saw one person talking on the pay
phone with one hand/ear and her cell phone with the other hand/ear).
I do wish they had prominent signs "for emergency use payphone to call
911 free call"; SEPTA has those.

> As for the Brady Bunch, there is also that first season episode (when
> the kids and parents were squeaky clean-cut, before they all became
> "hippy-dippy"), where

By the standards of those years, the Brady Bunch all remained squeaky
clean throughout the series. It was ridiculous in the last years; the
older kids were not realistic. In subsequent roles, both Maureen
McCormick and Eve Plumb (Marcia and Jan) played wild girls. McCormick
was not convincing as a fast girl, but Plumb did a great job playing a
teen runaway hooker. Today even on Disney you have teens hooking up.

I just saw two early episodes of the series and they weren't as
"fluffy" as I expected. The first dealt with a bully picking on the
kids. The bully gave the middle boy a black eye. The family taught
the boy to avoid a fight, but then, after meeting with the boy's
parents who were just as belligerent, taught the boy to fight and he
hit back the next time, loosening a tooth on the bully. In that
"Sesame Street" TV era, I was surprised they would show violence like
that that lead to an injury. Today of course there'd be a huge
lawsuit over a broken tooth and the cops involved with lots of finger
pointing (and it could be about girls fist fighting).

In another early episode Marcia came out for "women's lib". She joined
Greg's scout troop. They made Marcia take a tough initiation test
which she passed. I was surprised they got "political" like that in an
early episode; the show glossed over anything sensitive.

> I read on a tribute website about the Brady Bunch that for all five
> original ABC-TV seasons (1969-74), they NEVER had a touchtone phone at
> all in the house. They always had a standard rotary dial phone. Since
> the setting was southern California, I wonder if it could be assumed
> that they were always served by a "Step-by-Step" office, and one which
> didn't have DTMF to DP converters! Afterall, Mike would have been able
> to afford Pacific Telephone's monthly touchtone surcharges! :-)

Touch Tone service was available in all types of central offices. For
step by step, they had a variety of converters including cheap ones.
Many step offices were due to go ESS so they may not have bothered.

In affluent areas Touch Tone use was greater but by no means universal
in 1974. I would guess the Brady Family would've gone TT by 1976.
I'd say the big wave of TT conversions occured 1976-1980. (The Bell
System switching history ends at 1975).

In 1974 many large affluent families had a second phone line for the
kids. Given the Brady Household, I would've expected them to have
such a line. However, note that many plots and subplots in the
household revolved around the phone being tied up and busy. In the
3-slot episode, Mike and Carol were trying to call home to check in
but Jan was yakking on the phone. If they were lucky to get an early
ESS they'd have call waiting (another device for TV plots).

In the Archie Bunker household, he had a noticeable older telephone
set (302). Somewhere down the line in the series he got a Touch Tone

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The phones used in the Bunker household
varied by the show they were doing, it seems. Usually it was a rotary
dial phone sitting on the table; but in a couple of episodes the
rotary dial phone was sitting over by the sofa. PAT]

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