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My relationship with the telephone

September 30, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

We were not what you'd call telephone people.

When I was growing up, the telephone was something you didn't tie up, especially because it could mean the difference between going to work or not going to work when my dad initially was on the extra board on the railroad.

If he didn't get the call, he didn't get the work, so the telephone was not this household staple existing for idle chit-chat and long, rambling conversations about nothing just to pass the time.

No, a telephone was there as a means to relay pertinent information. Just the facts.

Ring, ring, ring. Answer or call. Say what you must. Hang up.

Or don't even call at all.

My sister Cathy and I have our chuckles about our days as students at West Liberty State College - she in the '60s, me in the '70s - because rarely - rarely - did we ever get phone calls from the home front.

If we did, we knew something was terribly wrong. Someone had surely died.

And if my parents went away on a trip, for example, there was never that phone call to affirm or reassure that they had made it OK to their destination. No not-to-worry call.

Our assumption was always no news is good news, so why would they need to call?

This, dear readers, was my phone normalcy/reality growing up in a household where, a big, heavy rotary dial model was how we communicated beyond the household walls - or didn't. Sometimes I think the receiver functioned as a better barbell than a connection to the outside world.

Even now when my mother calls me on the telephone, she speaks her peace at the speed of a hummingbird's flight, even squeezing in an apology for having kept me all of two to three minutes, then comes the quick goodbye, the hang-up, the distinct click. Later, later.


It's almost as if there's an egg timer ticking or the Telephone Police are at bay, monitoring the minutes.

Now I did have my abuse moments with the phone as a kid, a prank call here and there to inquire whether Prince Albert was in a can or, excuse me, sir, but is your refrigerator running? A little telephone humor there, even though telephone use was pretty serious stuff for the most part in my growing-up experience.

I thought about all this the other day when I was keenly aware about how people are always talking, talking, talking on phones these days, thanks to cell phones and all these modern forms of communication we have at our disposal.

Everybody has a lot to say constantly wherever they are, whatever they're doing.

Talk. Text. Twitter.

We're never out of touch.

Everybody's talking a-l-l the t-i-m-e.

Even so, I still find it hard to tie up a telephone for very long, this because of my upbringing.

But every once in a while, I get a little wild and crazy.

I call my mom, and we talk for four minutes.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at

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