At Christmastime, a couple of our family members got so-called smartphones for a gift. To me, it is truly amazing what all these phones will do. But I confess that they give me an inferiority complex. That's because I don't feel "smart enough" to operate and enjoy one.
Family members are always encouraging and saying, "Dad, you can do it with just a little experience."
Maybe I am just resisting change and feel like my older cell phone that makes and receives calls is enough. I hate to think I'm not "smart" enough.
We have another gadget sitting on the kitchen counter that suggests we are a bit old fashioned. It's called a landline phone. That is, it has to be connected to an outside line to work.
Many families have disconnected their landline phones. They just use the wireless cell phones that almost everyone has. But we like ours.
There are some advantages to these phones. You usually know where they are - unless you have one that is wireless from the line and you can take it out of the holder. We have been known to misplace ours once in a while, but it is large enough to find fairly easy.
Cell phones, on the other hand, have a habit of getting away. Maybe you took it with you to the store so your spouse can call you to add to the grocery list. When you came home, you forgot to take it out of your jacket pocket. So you hunt everywhere before you find it.
Then sometimes you have it in your pocket and accidentally dial someone in your list from California. You quickly cancel that call.
Cell phones are really a convenience. You can reach others much more easily. They are also great in an emergency.
Some years ago, we were traveling down a road in western Trumbull County and a semi-truck and trailer came off the interstate just ahead of us and rolled over. At that time, we didn't have a cell phone but the travelers behind us did. They were able to make emergency contacts quickly.
Going back to being old-fashioned, I can remember the day when our telephone hung on the wall. We had to pick up the receiver and stand there to talk into the mouth piece. But it worked, and we could communicate more easily with others.
My brother still has his old one hanging on the wall where it has been for many years. He keeps it there for a conversation piece. These old phones are antiques, and he could probably sell it, but he enjoys it. That's one of the benefits of antiques. If they have a family history and you enjoy them, keep them.
In the past I have mentioned the system used with old phones. Building phone lines was expensive and several people would be put on one line - sometimes as many as eight, and that made it tough to get an open line.
At home, I think we had just three others on the same line. At times, one family tended to dominate the line. We had problems finding the line open to use the phone. One of the problems of a party line.
To use the phone, you would turn the crank on the side and call Central. She was located in a home and had a large "switchboard" so she could route the calls. Our ring, so we knew when the call was for us, was two short rings and one long one.
When there was an emergency, such as a fire in town, Central would ring one long ring that went to everyone. Folks would rush to pick up their receiver to see where the problem was.
So we've come a long ways, and I wouldn't want to go back to the days of the party lines and phones hanging on the wall, even though I get frustrated thinking about a smartphone.
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.