Friday, July 2, 2010

What's in a number?

Before telephones became the norm in all households, and prior to the need for area codes, phone numbers used exchanges so the operator knew where to connect the call.  For example, our phone number starts with 695.  Up the the 60's, our extension may have been OXford 5 --- the OX corresponding to 69 and the term OXford telling the operator where to connect the call (should you need the operator's assistance).

Why this entry about telephone numbers?  It's because of a telephone number that my Grandparents met... and fast forward decades later... I came into existence.

My mother's parents both lived in small towns in Pennsylvania around the Wilkes Barre area.  Most families worked in the coal mines which didn't give much money for luxuries.. such as having a telephone line.  My Grandmother's family was one of the few in her neighborhood to have a telephone since it was needed to conduct business in her parent's "Mom and Pop" store which they operated in the front of their home.

My grandmother remembered her neighbors giving out the store's telephone number (my grandmother's home phone number) to friends.  The call would come to my grandma's house.. and she would have to hunt down the party for whom the call was intended so they could come use the phone.  She always hated that.


One day, Grams and her friend Dorothy were out and about and a man started hitting on Dorothy.  My Grandmother could tell Dorothy wasn't interested... but couldn't resist antagonizing this poor fellow further.  The man asked Dorothy if she had a phone so he could give her a call some time... before Dorothy could tell the guy off, Grams yelled out: "VAlley 2-2047!".  She told Dorothy she'd be happy to bring her to the phone should the guy call her.  Dorothy was not amused... Grams was hysterical with laughter. 

The romance between Dorothy and this fellow never materialized, but this man thought Grandma was so kind to help him out that he told his buddy Vince about her.  Soon, Grandma got a call from this Vince asking her out on a date.

Yes.. it was my Grandfather.  A star football player for his High School, good looking, though rather shy and reserved.. he took my Grandmother out on a blind date.  She used to tell me she never understood what he would see in her... he was so handsome and could have any girl he wanted.

After the date though, Grams didn't hear from him again... not for an entire year.  Talk about playing hard to get!  On New Year's Eve Gramps was sitting around and said to himself "I wonder what Helen is up to" and gave her a call.

Not one to sit around waiting for the phone to ring... Grams was out having a good time with her friends.  My grandfather called and woke up my Great-grandmother who spoke little to no English.  He would have to try again.

As you may have guessed he got a hold of her, they started dating regularly... and the rest was history.  All thanks to a simple telephone number.. and my grandma being a smart ass.  Because of this story I have a great affinity for that number VA2-2047.  Without it, my grandparents might not have met.. and I might never have been born.

In light of the story though, perhaps I should give the guys a meet a year to call me back before giving up on them???  Nah... I'll find a football player of my own.

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