Days Gone Bye: Number Please (Retread from 4 Aug 1999)

Published 2:51 pm Sunday, July 16, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

How many of y’all left around to remember Gulf Shores right after the war? Not much more than a wooden hotel, and then later some screen porch cabins popped up.

Daddy would get us up way before day, and head out, usually crossing Mobile Bay right about sunup. That was a bunch of water to see for boys used to watching the Bogue get up after a rain, and figuring that was about all the water the state could hold at one time.

Well, what has that got to do with the name of our column this week, you ask? Margie Compton Belcher loaned me a 1934 telephone book, which was just a few years before what I said about Gulf Shores, and I think y’all are goner enjoy hearing about the contents.

Email newsletter signup

Demopolis Chevrolet had a number of 5, and the Ford Agency was 40. My old, long gone buddy, Floyd Jackson, had a listing of 9-J.

The Demopolis part of the book was 3 ½ pages, and Linden took up near ‘bout a whole page. Lawyer Cunningham’s phone number was listed as 1. There were 46 souls who had telephones in Linden, except some of those were really in Myrtlewood.

That book included Selma with 15 pages, and I saw my granddaddy’s number as 428-J located at 318 Lamar Street.

Mayer Brothers operated a big business where Robertson Bank is headquartered today. They had three different numbers: 43 for dry goods, 44 for groceries, and 42 for the office.

That little bitty phone book was put out by Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company. I kinda miss Ol’ Ma Bell, don’t y’all?

I read somewhere that the Miller Community and Octagon didn’t get telephones ‘til around 1995. Worse than that, Octagon didn’t get to have water, ‘cept outer cisterns, ‘til South Marengo County Water and Fire Protection Authority came along and laid pipe. I was the lawyer for that
authority, and loved working with folks like J.P., Bedingfield, Curtis Johnson, Wilfred Hale, and Rita Hill, who worked long and hard to see that folks had that clean, cool water flowing to their houses.

I don’t have that new fangled caller ID on my home phone. I like for it to be a surprise when I hear who’s on the other end. I can’ ever fool anybody with my slow, deep talking. I wonder if I write as slow as I talk?

I don’t reckon I’ll ever get over missing turning that telephone crank, and hearing Central’s voice on the other end saying, “Number Please.”

Sure would like to ring up old number 34J down yonder in Linden Town, and wait for Ma or Daddy to pick up on the other end, and hearing my voice, would come back with, “Hey, Son.”

We’ve said “good bye” to a heap of grand times, haven’t we, Folks? But we got those memories stored in our old phone book of the heart. Number, please?