Remember When Phones Hung on Kitchen Walls?

old phoneTake a Walk Down Memory Lane!

If you’re a certain age you may remember hustling out of your chair to answer a ringing phone. If you’re a wee younger you might have a quizzical look, your cocked head, and squinted eyes saying, “What?”

There was a time when phones were not within arm’s reach. No, the phone was in the other room, attached to a wall. Some phone owners were lucky to have a long cord capable of stretching into a private place, like a closet or bathroom. We weren’t so lucky. Growing up, my family’s household phone was tethered to the wall, guaranteeing our calls were kept short. Times have changed and this daily experience I took for granted is no longer even mentioned in retro movies.

As an adjunct faculty teaching Principles of Nutrition for over 20 years, I grow older and my students younger—references like the tethered phone are often met with blank stares. If I’m lucky, a returning student—in school after decades of absence—takes my class and understands my archaic remarks. Mentally we’re connected—it’s like we share a special secret.

Boomers hold a special place

Advances in technology catapulted us to new levels. We carry a computer in our hand—we answer, photograph, create, play, listen, connect, and surf. It’s exciting. I’ve embraced technology, I had to. I can’t imagine going backward and teaching with the old acetate overheads—handwritten key points in colorful erasable markers on clear plastic sheets. Instead of students soaking in my lectures (at least that was the plan), vigorous note taking ensued causing cramped fingers and unreadable notes.

Teaching young people (and the young at heart) is my superpower, even as the students keep getting younger. My inherent ability lies in wellness coaching.

­Over the years my private practice clients ranged in age from 18 to 82. I enjoy them all, but “boomers” and those born before about 1975 hold a special place. I get them and they get me…and my silly references. For example:

Remember when…

  • Remember calling a guy only to hang up and never worrying because there was no way he’d know it was you? Then caller ID came along and ruined it.
  • Remember driving into a service station and never leaving the car? An attendant pumped the gas asking first, “Regular or unleaded?” While the gas flowed into the tank, he (it was always a he) would check the oil and wash your windows.
  • Oh, and remember when you had to roll down the window—manually? You used your arm in a physical motion to turn the knob clockwise to roll it down. Now? A simple push and all by itself…magic.
  • Remember drive-in movie theaters?
  • Remember there were 4 – 5 channels? ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the weird station—what my brothers and I called it—had all the British stuff­—PBS. And remote controls, what were those?
  • Remember the pretentious little antennas on rear car windows? It was a status symbol indicating a car phone inside. They started selling fake ones for the wannabes.
  • Remember rotary phones? And wasn’t it the worst when your best friend had a nine in her phone number? Ugh, it took the dial forever to make it around. Touchtone was a blessing.
  • Remember sitting right next to your boyfriend in the car? Sportier cars like my mom’s 1967 green Mustang had bucket seats, but the big front seats…hmmm. Cars were huge. My first very, very used car was a Buick Electra 225. It sat 20 comfortably.remember when


Yes, those were some memories—they can stay in the past. I regret though so much of what we used to do has been replaced by sedentary activity. A quick tilt of the head to check who’s calling, a few keystrokes to look up something via Google. It’s good and not so good.

I think self-service gas stations are one of the few examples where technology made us more active. Needing to get out and pump unless you were fortunate to have a teenager do it for you.

There are many other examples of remember when. What are your memories?


Image credits: Neily on Nutrition,, and

Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach

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  1. Holden C Anele

    Ms Neily,
    That’s hilarious !
    Thanks taking us down the memory lane. A lot has changed, some for good and some for bad. Your photo with your boat may worth a lot in thenext 20 years when it will look like out from this world.
    – Holden

    • Neily

      Haha! Glad you enjoyed it Holden. Hope all is well! -Neily

  2. Neva

    I remember all of those things! I even recall that my grandparents, who lived out in the country in Central Texas, had a telephone party line. The type of ring (one long or two short) told you whether it was a call for them or the other home on the same line! I also remember those roll down car windows. My husband is so cheap that on our recent vacay to San Diego, he reserved our car through Payless Car Rental and it had old-fashioned roll-down windows!! And when we lived in Portales, New Mexico when I was in K-2nd grades, TV didn’t even come on until 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon! Finally, before cell phones I had an extra-long cord on my phone so I could hold the receiver and walk all the way to the bookcase in my office or into the closet where my file cabinet was to look up something when I was on the phone with a writer or reporter for a media interview. People were very impressed with how quickly I could access information! Now I just click open a file or website on my computer!!!

    • Neily

      Haha – thanks Neva! Yes I remember those party lines too. And when you only had to dial 7 digits b/c everyone had the same area code. I can’t believe there are still cars with roll down windows – my goodness, how old was the car? At least it got you around San Diego 🙂 -Neily


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