Story & Photos – Joseph Boyle
Getting older gives you the ability to say, “Boy, times have changed.”
Check out my first photo, which is an image of an old phone booth. Many of our grandchildren have never seen one.
I remember back in the 1950s my pal, Biff and I used to earn piles of kid money jumping into phone booths like Clark Kent & then back out like Superman.
We would pick up enough nickels left behind in the coin slot to keep us in jelly donuts and RC Colas purchased from our favorite donut shop in Riverton Heights just south of Seattle. We worked a regular collection route moving from phone booth to phone booth until we had a pocket full of nickels.
Of course wouldn’t you know it; the donut shop was on the other side of Old Highway 99. This dangerous highway carried a large volume of high-speed traffic. The I-5 Freeway had not been invented yet.
Our parents would not allow us to cross Highway 99. They put that rule in place right after a giant photo of Biff on a hospital bed with a full body cast hit the front page of the Seattle Times.
Biff’s notoriety came about as the result of having been hit by a car while crossing Old Highway 99.
We were obedient kids so we never crossed the highway ever again.
But, what about those donuts? We figured out that our family rule did not cover crossing under the highway so in order to get to the donut shop, we crawled under all 4 lanes of Highway 99 using the concrete drain culvert that traversed side to side. It was creepy and there was always water running through the bottom. We were never sure what kind of water. So we walked up hill bent over using the angled sides of the culvert with a kind of Milton Berle shuffle.
Our phone booth collection route was happening before we broke into the bottle recycling business, but that is another story involving a mountain of bottles loaded into Biff’s dad’s panel van from our bottle collection stored inside our club house. We collected these bottles from along the roadside.
Once we backed the van up to the neighborhood Thriftco or Food Giant Grocery, the grocery clerk spent an easy hour counting all the refund deposits on our pop and beer bottle collection. Back at the cash register, we each picked up $20, which made us feel like junior high rollers.
While our phone booth coin collection route was basically a “finders keepers, losers weepers” operation, the local ruffians used to increase their take by stuffing a wad of paper up the coin slot to block the coins from properly descending into the coin return bin.
Now look at my second photo, which depicts an Apple iPhone 4s. Yes, all of our kids and grandkids recognize a cell phone and they want one.
When they get their hands on a cell phone, they know all about it including such things as texting, photography and surfing the net. They even make cellphone calls to their parents since many parents do not know how to text.
In the old movies, they used to like to have the hero step into a phone booth so the bad guys could crush the phone booth with the hero inside by smashing their car into the booth.
Sometimes the victim just froze and screamed. Other times the victim jumped clear and survived to fight crime another day.
Today the driver’s are on cell phones and with no phone booths to smash into, they crash their cars into other stuff like other drivers, power poles and water hazards. This modern development is not nearly as entertaining.
Times have changed. Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922) who patented the first practical telephone in 1876, would not believe his eyes or ears…. Yes, ears as we now have hands-free speakerphones.
I have to wonder, with changing times; where do modern day kids get their donut money? I hope they are not just eating bagels. That is no way to enjoy childhood.