Do You Remember Your Childhood Phone Number?

IMG_9848Do you remember your old phone number from growing up? My childhood number was 9-1692 (before the days of prefixes and area codes). Chances are you can remember yours as well, even though it could have been decades ago. Now what’s the number of your son, daughter, parents or best friend? I couldn’t tell you. How about those you know best? Most of us don’t know by heart the telephone numbers of the people we care most about.

I got to thinking about this when I was in an old house my realtor wife was showing today. There on the wall was something I hadn’t seen in a long time … a rotary dial telephone. It reminded me of the type of phone I grew up using, and its number. 9-1692. Call home from school or a friend’s house, and those were the digits that would reach my mom or dad.

Speed dial

So why is it we can recall a phone number we haven’t dialed  for half a century or more, but can’t remember the number of someone we talk to nearly everyday? Well, back then our fingers would dial the digits or recite it to others literally thousands of times. 9-1692. 9-1692. 9-1692. Today nobody remembers phone numbers anymore because they’re stored in our cell phones. Speed dial. Store the phone number once in our contacts, give it a name, and you may never have to dial it again. From now on that important number is in your phone’s memory, but not yours.

“Numerical amnesia”

A recent survey in the UK found seven in ten people can’t recall their best friend’s number and 51 percent don’t know their parents’ number. They suffer from what’s been called “numerical amnesia” because they’re using cell phones to store numbers rather than memorizing them. Michael Lynch of CPP, which commissioned the survey, said, “Our research shows that people are so heavily reliant on their mobile phones, that they would be lost without them.”IMG_9850

“You have the right to make one phone call”

So what would you do if you lost your cell phone, all the contacts in it, all the speed dial shortcuts? And you needed to call someone? The other day we talked about that in one of our meetings at work. One scenario we joked about was getting arrested, taken to jail and told you could make your one call. Uh, let’s see. I may have to call one of the only numbers I know from memory.

9-1-6-9-2. “Hello? Mom? Dad?”

Invalid number? You need the prefix first? And area code?  ‘Officer, could I please have my cell phone back?”

One Comment on “Do You Remember Your Childhood Phone Number?

  1. Mark, try Greenwood 9-1692 ! And we’d often get calls at home intended for a prefix in California of 916, if they didn’t use GR or Greenwood for out of state. My childhood phone number was 2-0730. I was seven! But before that, all we’d have to do is crank the phone on the wall, and call “Central” down the street. Oh for the simple life again.

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