handcrank phone


The house on a pond had a handcrank phone when we first moved to this rural Maine town. Oddly, the phone was not antique. Its use had been discontinued the previous year, only a few months before. It looked like a rotary phone, black, boxy, leaden.  Even the rotary phone we  might now consider almost an antique — but in place of its dial was a crank.  Something your hand would wring to get the attention of the switchboard operator in an office in the village. At that time, not being an antique phone, it was yet a remnant of the original smart phone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell. We lived just outside the village possessed of the last handcrank phone system in the United States.


Last weekend we looked on at the town celebration of its bicentennial (with fireworks and parade). All traffic on the main highway was closed and rerouted over backroads from this spot on a curve in the village. And everyone gathered in anticipation, kids playing, doing stunts with their elders, all colorful movement in the bright sunshine. Floats and fire-engines converged at the ballpark in preparation to stream past.  Then it began.

And here’s the float with the exhibit itself, one of the last handcrank phones.


Here is our town’s walking birthday cake, heading into the future. I overheard his coach telling him he’d done a good job! (Having to walk a half mile on his lonesome short legs, from the ballpark to the fire station at parade’s end.)


Here R. is taking a picture of one of the teachers in the village school, with spouse. Her hand is on the crank.  R. gets the image using her — what else?— smart phone.

R with smart phone

I should have put this handcrankery in The God’s Cycle, because the culture  is contemporaneous. But I forgot. It would have been perfect if the phone Chrischana wanted to knock Balder away from had been a handcrank, instead of a rotary dial wall phone.


the god’s cycle

One response

  1. We lived just outside the village possessed of the last handcrank phone system in the United States.

    That’s amazingly cool.

    (And yes, it would have been great to have that detail in the books, but you know, they–the ones I’ve read–are excellent even so. It’s good that we can keep on finding things we’d do to improve.)

    I like that plucky birthday cake!

    Liked by 1 person

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