End of an era

I was reading headlines online earlier this evening when an interesting one came across my screen.  “Last public payphone removed in NYC today”  That’s not to say it will be the last payphone in the entire city, there are many that exist in private businesses and some homes, and there are at least 2 or 3 full length payphone booths that still are available.

Doing a little digging on the ‘Net, apparently as of 2020 there were still at least 100,000 usable payphones in the entire United States, but increasingly they’re being removed, as people using cellphones are supplanting the need for coin operated phones.  Certainly using an operator to place a call has gone the way of the dodo, and the very concept of a ‘trunk’ call, or ‘station to station’ is unheard of.  Just like the bygone days when one could make a phone call for 10 cents (I was in college when the cost increased to a quarter dollar), putting in scads of coins to make a phone call has quickly become a thing of the past.

Though I do remember being in school and needing a ride home.  Instead of using the time honored tradition of making a collect call, and when the automated voice asked for the name; using something like “pleasecomegetmepracticeisover” we used the system of pressing the number 6 twice to indicate that someone needed a ride home.  That way we saved a dime, and whichever parent was free was able to drive to the school to come get either myself or my brother.

Anyway, it seemed interesting to me, so I thought I’d write about it.  Off to bed here, it’s been a long day.

Old Neighbors

I grew up in a rural part of New York State.  At that time, there were some transplants from New York City (90 miles south) that had purchased houses and lived there on weekends and vacations, but certainly not the way that they have transformed the town in the intervening years since.  In my own neighborhood/cul-de-sac, there was at least one family that fit this description, as the house was not often occupied during the week, but came to life on the weekends and in the summer when school was out and the weather was much warmer.

The family had two children, but neither of them was educated locally.  Even so, the family was pretty subdued and didn’t make much of their present or past significance in show business.  There was a persistent rumor that the father did voiceover work in commercials (the one I remember vividly was that he was the voice of Starkist’s ‘Charlie the Tuna’ from television, [which I recently discovered turned out to be false]) and that he had acted in a soap opera or two in New York City.  As neighborhoods go, ours was pretty seemingly uninterested in things that were considered sensational so this information was left to rumor and innuendo and nothing much was ever made of it.

I have a small fixation with the neighborhood I grew up in, in that I keep tabs on the house and the surrounding area, even though we sold the property in 1992 and it’s gone through several owners since then.  I did visit the property two years ago with my birth mother, to show her where I grew up and for me it was a possibility of seeing the house where I spent 27 years living and supposedly maturing.  The current owners of the house weren’t amenable to us going through it, since the elderly father of the woman that owned it lived there with an aide, so we were relegated to walking the grounds outside. I was able to peek into the windows of a few of the rooms to see if much had changed, some things did, others haven’t.  But that isn’t the topic of this entry.

A couple of nights ago I was looking at Google Earth and thought to check out the street view of my neighborhood (if indeed it was available) and discovered a Google car had indeed made it to my cul-de-sac.  I just happened to be checking out some of the other properties and decided to look at the cluster of mailboxes near the intersection of two streets.  Lo and behold one of them looked strikingly familiar.  The family name of the ‘famous’ family was still on one of them!  It was the same size and shape that I remember, and the little brass and black stick on letters I’d remembered seeing there were still present, spelling out the last name.  So I was intrigued that perhaps they still owned the house and property.  Only a couple of the original residents of the area are still in their houses, all of the others have either died or moved elsewhere.

Doing a little Internet digging I discovered the tax records (they’re publicly available in case you were wondering) and sure enough the property is owned by their Limited Liability Corporation, but it has the family name attached to it all the same.  From that I discovered the father had died in 2015, but the mother still lived mainly in California, and apparently the son now lived in the house as he was apparently retired from his former work at CBS Sports (he was a producer).  There was a police blotter report from a couple years ago where the son was ticketed for DWI by the local yokels, and it listed his age.  From there I came upon the obituary of the father, and it listed his accomplishments and among them were his voiceover work, as well as acting in a soap opera from the 1950s.  A serial called Young Dr. Malone that apparently had started as a radio program but morphed into a television one when tv became the norm and housewives needed distraction during that era.

As it turned out, the rumors were partially true.  We had a somewhat celebrity living in our midst.  They were very nice people as I remember and didn’t make much of their celebrity.  Of course, we also had a millionaire living in our neighborhood, but that’s another story for another day.

 

Wrestling Rut

Monday evenings television watching has been in a rut for the last several years.  Tuesdays too, if the truth be known.  Generally we eat dinner at 8 pm, which for many is considered ‘late’, but we don’t have children (not the human kind) and I’ve been lax for many years and that’s when we eat.  When we eat, we watch television, like many families do.  I remember growing up we didn’t watch when we ate, we ate as a family, in the kitchen, and the television was in the family room, although in my parents’ house, the family room and the kitchen were adjoining.  Basically one large room from one side of the house to the other.  I visited the property in 2017 and was able to peek into the bay window that exposed to the backyard and that’s still the case.  Sure there’s a skylight that wasn’t present when I was living there, but the new owners have effected several changes in the time that it’s been owned by others.  For better or worse.

Presently, for the past say ten years, we watch pro wrestling on Monday nights.  Granted it’s my preference, not my wife’s but we compromise.  She likes to watch reality competitions like Survivor, TopChef, Hell’s Kitchen, Project Runway (et al) and I suffer through them just like she suffers through the wrestling shows.  Too,  I like to watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and she can’t stand ‘Lard Weasel’, but again she suffers for my sake, just like I do for her and her shows (I particularly detest RuPaul’s Drag Race and Below Deck, but again, it’s for a good cause)

The last several weeks however, I’ve been getting a little tired of the pro wrestling and have been seeking out other things to watch that aren’t the ‘same ol, same ol’ plotlines and conjured violence and drama that has been the WWE lately.  Matter of fact this past Monday I switched to the National Geographic channel and their relatively new series ‘Drain the Ocean’.  It’s where they do a detailed workup of a certain section of water (ocean, river, or some body) and investigate what might have become of whatever they’re looking at.  The 8 pm episode detailed certain areas of New York’s harbor, from a time during the American Revolution, to the 19th century in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.  They even took a crack at the wreck of a steamer called SS Oregon, that was supposedly sunk by a German sea mine in 1918.  Very heady stuff and very interesting for someone who is a historical buff like myself.

There have been other episodes, dealing with infamous ships like Titanic and Bismarck, as well as lesser known ships like the one that was discovered near the original footprints of the Twin Towers post 9/11.  That particular ship was theorized to be a river barge owned (or merely used) by the Royal Navy around the time of the American Revolution, as the timbers were dated to the tree having been felled about 1773.

Honestly, I haven’ t been missing watching the mindless pap of pro wrestling.  Too, there’s been a brouhaha about a new wrestling outfit called AEW that will (this coming fall) be directly challenging WWE for supremacy in the business.  Not a bad thing, since McMahon and company could do with a bit of competition.  They’ve been the ‘big dog’ out there with their monopoly for too long, and I think their product has become very stale.  There was a time about ten years ago when I stepped away from watching them religiously every week, and I think I’ve come to that tipping point again.  Certainly there are ways to keep up with what’s going on with it, via online and on YouTube, and if I’m overly interested, I can read about the various storylines if I wish to.  But on Monday and Tuesday nights, I think I’m going to be watching other things.  More interesting ones.