I used to watch my mom sit and talk sometimes for hours late in the evening at her telephone seat with coffee in hand, and an occasional cigarette. Our telephone seat was nestled in a corner of our long hallway, situated close to the piano. The piano was an upright, allowing for some privacy if necessary.
I have always liked the idea of a place solely made for talking, a place that became an island of alone time. Once that receiver was in hand, the world would fall away, or at least that was what I felt I bore witness too, as we were not to disturb my mother when on call, for all intensive purposes my sister and I ceased to exist in those moments.
There was something so organic about the connections made over those wires, it was the next best thing to seeing her friends in person. It was a moment that didn’t require multi tasking (walking with your cell, or folding laundry with your cordless) the telephone seat and landline rotary phone plugged into the wall made certain of that. They were simpler times made more beautiful by the furniture designed for its utilitarian purpose.
I don’t recall the actual year or day that my parents got rid of the telephone seat (it was taking up too much space) and replaced it with just a telephone table whose perimeter would eventually come to be known as our shoe dispensary, but I remember that soon after that, our telephone cords were extended, doors were closed for privacy, and conversations no longer came with coffee, or cigarette rituals.
Change is inevitable, and design is consistently reinventing itself, but with every technological advance comes a loss of a simpler time.
I still have that rotary phone, sitting in my closet. I keep it as a memento of what once was and no longer is.
Ah, nostalgia, it can be so bittersweet. -tM