Thursday, December 18, 2008

One Ringy Dingy....

Did you grow up with a rotary dial phone? I did, and frankly, I miss it. Cell phones are convenient as heck, but they're so SMALL that you can't tuck it between cheek and shoulder without pushing all the buttons at once and disconnecting your call. And there's something very satisfactory about whipping that dial around.

So I was thrilled when I ran across Small Bell, a unique store that refurbishes rotary phones. Matt Payne got interested in phones initially because his mother worked for the phone company for many years. Then as these sorts of things usually happen, randomness put his interest into motion.

Matt says, " My girlfriend and I were wandering through our local salvage shop and I found a complete, green Western Electric 500. I bought it on a whim, and soon started snatching up all the phones I could lay my hands on. I work as a technician in the performing arts, so I'm already handy with electronics, so learning to work on the phones comes naturally to me. I love these phones so very much, and it brings me a lot of joy to bring them back to life."

Right now he has a great selection in his shop (I have my eye on this one), but Matt says if you have a favorite rotary phone that you want to bring back to life, contact him and he'll work with you to make it happen. And if you're in the theater biz, and want to rent a phone for a play or other production (he can make them ring at the flip of a switch from back stage), give him a shout.

This is such a great way to recycle and bring some of that "back in the day" vibe into your home! Check out his shop at

And a post about phones wouldn't quite be complete without a bit from Geraldine, the consummate telephone operator! Enjoy!


  1. Yup, I grew up with a rotary. In fact, at our country house when I was young, we had a party line. Sometimes I wonder if I'm a hundred years old.

  2. My grandmother had a party line, and it was a Big Deal because it was only a two-party line! LOL -- I remember all that stuff.

  3. My grandmother had a Western Electric 300 until she passed in 1995; made of Bakelite and indestructable. Are you old enough to remember when phones used two-letter local Exchange Names (PEnnsylvania 6-5000, MUrray Hill 5-9975)? That's why there were letters on the phone LONG before anyone dreamed about texting.

  4. No, I don't remember the letter exchanges, but do remember when they first started adding new area codes -- my city was one that had to change theirs and everyone was incensed!

  5. Anonymous9:59 PM

    I think we had that harvest gold one in our house at one point.

    I love the red one!

  6. Keith, I wish I was old enough to remember exchange codes, but pretty soon I'll be offering custom fingerwheel inserts, with exchange codes as an option! Keep an eye out...

    Jen, Harvest Gold is one of my favorite Western Electric colors! I recently sold a two-tone phone in Harvest Gold and Black, and I have another one in my personal collection. Beautiful!


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