And speaking of obsolescence – the toy telephone

Figure 1 - Toy phone a study in obsolescence, IPhone photograph, (c) DE Wolf 2016.

Figure 1 – Toy phone a study in obsolescence, IPhone photograph, (c) DE Wolf 2016.

And speaking of obsolescence, the other day my wife and I were having lunch at a favorite haunt, and I was watching some children playing with the toy telephone of Figure 1. And no I didn’t rip it out of their precious little hands to photograph it. I have spoken before about the fun and historic value of soon to be obsolete technology in its eclipse. And what could be better? The rotary dial phone is barely seen anymore (worthy of a photograph), and a toy version even better. I have intentionally thrust it back into the black and white era and for good measure given it a healthy sepia tone to emphasize its antiquity.

Many years ago, we were on vacation at a hotel and I watched my son face the enigma and conundrum of how to use a rotary dial. He adapted perfectly and flawlessly. This is either a testament to the plasticity and adaptability of the human mind, its ability to figure things out. Or he had played with toys like that in the figure at daycare.

Nevertheless, you can see how old the toy is – broken strings and chipped painted eyes – this not to mention the yucky remnants of a thousand childhoods. It seems unlikely that this toy has been cleaned in at least twenty years. Kids today punch away on toy cellphones. Still all the kids today at lunch picked it up and said “Hello, hello,” and I shuttered at the remembrance of the Twilight Zone episode “Long Distance” where the little boy, played by Bill Mumy, talks to his dead grandmother.  And so it goes. Cords? Rotary dials? How difficult it must have been to live in those days!

This entry was posted in Personal Photographic Wanderings.


  1. Marilyn Fuss September 1, 2016 at 5:33 am #

    Was Billy Mumy in more than one Twilight Zone? He is most noted for wishing people in the Cornfield. I don’t remember his calling his grandmother, just everyone catering to him in fear of his wrath: “it’s good you did that!” In the Twilight Zone movie that came much later, Bill Mumy had a cameo or larger part.

    • David September 4, 2016 at 1:56 pm #


      Evidence points to three:
      – In Praise of Pip (1963) TV Episode (as Billy Mumy) …. Young Pip
      – It’s a Good Life (1961) TV Episode …. Anthony Fremont
      – Long Distance Call (1961) TV Episode …. Billy Bayles