TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: What's This Telephone Related Item?

Re: What's This Telephone Related Item?
22 Aug 2006 10:22:45 -0700

TELECOM Digest Editor noted in response to Jim Stewart:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: A long time ago, pay telephones did not
> accept money as such; they were operated with 'telephone slugs'; at
> least the ones in Chicago were.

I'm not sure that's a pay phone token.

I thought tokens were discontinued way way back when Gray's 3-slot
phones came out that could take any demonination deposit via 5c, 10c,
and 25c coins.

Anyway, on this item the phone appears to be a Trimline, not a
Princess, and it appears the date is 198?. There is no Bell System
marking at all.

Usually tokens had some marking to indicate their value, ie "good for
one city fare" or "good for one phone call". Some systems issued
multiple tokens, such as one for local buses and one for expresses or
special services. The LIRR used to issue this huge medallion sized
token for Belmont Racetrack trains. Phila has adult tokens and school
fare tokens. Tokens are being phased out for mag cards.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Walgreens used pay phone slugs until
sometime in the 1920's, and the Woolworth and Kresge Five and Ten Cent
Stores (today, we know Kresge 5-10 as 'K-Mart') through about the same
time, however the one of the two Woolworth stores in downtown Chicago
had Gray Pay Station Company phones and phone booths until sometime in
the 1960's (although long since taken over by Illinois Bell, via the
Chicago Telephone Company), and they were the two-piece instruments
with a piece you held up to your ear (brown cloth, not metal and not
armored cord) in one hand while you leaned forward to speak into the
microphone mouthpiece. I think maybe those were removed by 1960; I
cannot honestly remember them after that time, but I remember quite
well as an adolescent child going 'downtown' and being fascinated by
using those things (1952-54?), but at that time we paid by inserting
one dime or two nickles (one nickle alone no longer worked, as the
sign on the wall of the phone booth reminded us).

Do you remember when nearby the phone booths there would always be a
table with phone directories mounted on it, and a seat with a small
reading lamp where you could sit to locate the number you were trying
to call? And of course the phone booths themselves were made out of
rather elegant wood with a nice brown-stained finish; they all had
the little domed ceiling lights, the 'accordion doors with glass in
the front which would slide open or closed (turning on the overhead
light and the little ceiling fan inside, and the sign on the front of
each one announcing 'Public Telephone'.

When my uncle had his Walgreen Agency Drug Store in Whiting in the
middle 1950's the store payphone near the front door was similar to
those, but the booth had a Genuine Bell style phone in it rather than
a Gray Pay Station instrument. PAT]

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