David Duchesne
        It wasn't long after the advent of the first dial telephones that my 
older brother and I found out that we could be totally anonymous while making 
phone calls. Up to this point we had a healthy fear of being found out if we 
used the phone to make what we thought were fun phone calls. We were on the 
verge of discovering the enormous possibilities the new technology offered us. 
No more "Number, please?". No more "David, is that you on the line?". We could 
pick up the phone and dial any four number sequence and begin to have fun. We 
still had to be careful because the phone was still centrally located in the 
cubby hole box in the hallway. We still had to keep an eye out for Mom. This, in 
itself, wasn't too hard. Not that our mother was oblivious to the mischief we 
were up to, but when the washing machine was running, (If it is, you'd better 
catch it.) she couldn't hear too much else. As it happened Mom was hard of 
hearing and even with a very large hearing aid strapped to her waist, she 
couldn't discern our voices over the sloshing sounds of the washer as we engaged 
in our games of voice mischief. Since Mom was busy washing and hanging the 
clothes outside, we only wreaked havoc on the telephone lines on Monday.
        "It's your turn to watch today," I said.
        I climbed on the foot stool which we had borrowed from the living room. 
Putting my tiny finger into the dial, I turned it as quietly as I could. Even 
though it just clicked a bit and could hardly be heard a foot away, it was 
thunderous in my ears, not unlike the roar of a toilet flushing in the middle of 
the night.
        It rang once. It rang twice. "Maybe they're not at home." The ringing 
        "Hello," a lady's voice responded.
        In my calmest voice, just stifling a laugh, "Hello, do you keep Aunt 
Jemima in your cupboard?"
        There was a pause. "Why, I believe I do."
        Still holding back, I looked at my brother and replied, "Don't you think 
you should let her out? She must be stiff from being crammed into such a small 
space." There was an audible click at the other end of the line.
I could barely see the hook for the receiver. Tears filled my eyes as I found 
the cradle and hung up.
        We put the stool back in the living room and headed for the front porch.
        "She said she kept Aunt Jemima in the cupboard." We rolled on the porch 
with laughter, tears running down our cheeks. Mom looked out and smiled 
appreciatively as we laughed together.
        "It's your turn next," I told Paul. "Which one should we use?"
        Paul offered, "Let's try 'Is your refrigerator running?'"
        "What about 'Do you keep Prince Albert in a can?'"
        "I know, try the one about Robin Hood? My brother didn't sound too 
        "I don't think that's so funny, what about you?"
        "I've got it! I've got it! I could see that Paul was having a flash of 
brilliance. "Let's call someone who lives on this street and ask them if they 
live on Harcourt Street."
        "So what's the answer," I responded somewhat puzzled.
        "They'll say yes and I'll say, you'd better get out of the way, a 
truck's coming.
        My face brightened. "I want to do that one. I have to do it. Can I do 
it? Please, please please," I pleaded.
        "You just did one, it's my turn."
        "C'mon, I know just who to call."
        "Well, OK," Paul conceded.
        My plan had begun. I was going to call our neighbor, the telephone lady, 
who used to know everything, and fool her for a change. My logic, once again 
flawed by youth, suggested that, since we don't have to talk to the operator 
anymore except when making out of town calls, she wouldn't have the slightest 
idea who was calling.
        We checked the number carefully and memorized it so the next opportunity 
to sneak to the phone would not be marred by having to get the phone book and 
find the number. A short search led us to the number we wanted and we recited it 
quietly to ourselves - 2-3-7-4. For the next few days each would challenge the 
other to remember the number and, without fail, each was successful.
        Next washing day was perfect. The sun was bright. It was an ideal day 
for drying clothes. Mom was busy doing just that and the lady next door was 
home. We had checked.
        "Can Sharon come out to play," I had said politely when our neighbor, 
the telephone operator, had answered the door. Having confirmed that Sharon was 
already out (we knew where she was) I left. The scene was set.
        We checked to see if Mom was busy with the wash. The machine was 
whirring noisily in the kitchen. Mom sang a line or two of this song or another 
and headed out to the back stoop to hang the first load of wash on the line.
        "Coast is clear," Paul exclaimed.
        We dragged the stool quietly from the living room. I jumped up and 
lifted the receiver while Paul stood guard. I put my finger in the hole in the 
dial beside the two, turned it, released it, then the three, the seven and 
finally the four. It seemed like forever before the ringing started.
        "Boy, am I ever going to get her."
        It rang once. I put my hand over the mouthpiece, "It's ringing."
        It rang twice. I covered the receiver with my free hand. "I hope she 
didn't go out."
        On the third ring, she answered. "Hello."
        "Do you live on Harcourt Street," I queried. I looked at Paul and 
started to giggle. "Here she goes," I said.
        "And you too, David," My neighbor, the telephone operator heard me. I 
had forgotten to put my hand over the receiver. "Now hang up or I'll tell your 
mother. She's just next door, you know. We were talking over the fence."

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