Harking back to the good old days

Manual telephone exchange. Picture: Wikipedia

Manual telephone exchange. Picture: Wikipedia

My home town is now home to the biggest collection of telephone poles erected in the last five decades.

I’m all for retro. Honestly, jazz just sounds so much better on vinyl. And what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than to haul out the old vinyl records, open up a bottle of red wine, and light a real log fire in the fireplace.

It’s just not the same with an electric heater or some new-age gas contraption that looks like it could be a prop from the neighbour’s children’s science fiction movie they’ve been making forever.

When it comes to cars, those old classics might not have had airbags, power steering and navigation systems, but my goodness, the Ford Falcon my dad took us to school in had style to spare.

Not to mention the original Kombi – and the back row of every drive-in cinema reserved especially for those icons.

I’m lucky enough to own an old rotary Bakelite telephone – one of those wall-mounted ones. Watching children play with it, trying to figure out what it is and how it works, gives me endless pleasure.

But a couple of weeks back, retro took on a brand-new meaning. Coming home from work one evening, I noticed that quite a number of gum poles had been planted in my neighbourhood. Someone was going big on election postering, I thought.

As the days passed, the number of poles increased. I did notice they were quite evenly spaced – probably something to do with municipal by-laws, I thought. But still there were no posters. Cutting it fine, I thought.

The election came and went, and the poles stood their ground, unused. Well, that was a waste of money, I thought.

Then, the very day after the election, the workers came. They had ladders, climbing gear, safety harnesses, hard hats, the whole shebang. But they weren’t putting up posters.

They hoisted kilometres and kilometres of cables up the poles, spanning them from one end of town to the next.

Then it struck me: Telephone poles. My home town is now home to the biggest collection of telephone poles erected in the last five decades. But alas, my rotary dial phone will not be revived.

Apparently, we’re getting fibre – retro-style.

Danie Toerien

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