Yesterday after church I was lounging on the couch–something I excel at–and the movie Argo was on television.  I was kind of mindlessly watching, because I’ve seen the movie before.  But in one of the scenes the main character, played Ben Affleck, slams down a phone in anger and frustration.  For some reason that sound of the phone’s plastic clashing with the base triggered a forgotten memory, a forgotten sound.  That sound, and the emotion that goes with it, has become extinct.  It is impossible to slam a smart phone down in anger with the same effect, and even if you could, it would only be expensive to replace it.

Our 'party-line' phone looked just like this
Our ‘party-line’ phone looked just like this

As we grow older we find that not only does landscape, vocabulary and fashion change, but so to do the things we hear.  I made a little list of the sounds that have disappeared during my lifetime.  When I think about them, they sound like childhood.

  • slamming the phone down
  • the ringing of the bell at a full-service gas station when you drive over the hose
  • film running through the projector at the movies
  • manual typewriters, especially the return
  • the annoying dial-up modem (which came and went during my lifetime)
  • a flashbulb pop on a camera
  • the national anthem playing when the television station ‘signs off’ at the end of the broadcast day.
  • the cash register bell

I am sure there are many more, but these are the ones that came to mind.

Let me be clear, it is not that I miss these sounds, because I don’t really miss them at all.  I’ll take my smart phone over the party-line any day.  The point is, perhaps, when I think about a phone, my mental image is still the plastic rotary phone and the way we handled them, carried them around while talking, and then ‘hung them up’ when we were finished.

I wonder, when my sprouts are my age, what sounds that are a part of my everyday life will no longer exist?

image from

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