Do you remember when you had only one phone per family, rather than one phone per family member? They were called home-phones. Now we call them landline-phones. Eventually we’ll call them relics of a bygone era. The only problem with those old phones was that they couldn’t be used for anything except talking. You couldn’t email, Facebook, or Twitter on them, but that was okay because we had never heard of any of those things. You couldn’t even text on them, but back then a text was something you found in the Bible or a book.

It seems that hardly anyone, other than businesses, has landlines anymore. Much like the rotary dial and family dinners, they are on the fast track to becoming extinct. I haven’t had a landline phone for thirteen years. The reason, as you well know, is because of cell phones. Far too many practically live on our phones these days. When I was a kid, we were limited as to when and how long we could talk on the phone. Mama didn’t allow calls after 8:30 at night, which probably is still not a bad idea. Where I grew up, local calls were disconnected by the phone company after three minutes. Of course we could call back as many times as we wished, or as much as our parents allowed. Most calls outside of town were considered long-distance. For those calls we could talk as long as we wanted, because we paid for those calls by the minute. If we go way on back, we even shared party lines with neighbors.

We didn’t have or need social media back in those days. Actually, those party lines were social media because your neighbors could pick up and listen in on conversations. Everyone knew everyone’s business, including what we ate for lunch but without pictures.

Back in those days, most phones were black and had a rotary dial. Ours set on a table at the end of the sofa. Some families had a phone that was mounted to the wall. We didn’t, but I sure thought those were cool. One of my cousins used the wall beside his wall phone to write down phone numbers and notes. Yes, he wrote right on the wall. Mama would have never voted in favor of that, which may be why we never had a wall phone. You couldn’t roam across the house with a landline phone, and certainly not out in the yard, because it was attached to the wall with a cord. The receiver was even attached to the base with a spiraled cord. You never ever saw anyone talking on a phone in a public place. We still believed in something called “rude behavior” back then. Can you imagine seeing someone back in the day (with a blue-tooth device hidden in his ear) apparently carrying on a conversation with himself? We probably would have assumed he had been drinking or needed some psychiatric assistance.

hese days that is an everyday common occurrence. My, how things have changed!

One thing that has not changed is how we talk to God. Each night, after Mama said it was too late to talk on the phone, she taught me how to talk to God. We don’t even need a phone, landline or cell, to call Him.

We just talk or even think and He hears us. We can even all talk at the same time and He still hears every single one of us. Have you talked to Him lately?

Of course, those conversations in many public places are considered as “rude behavior” these days.

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit for more information.

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