Monday, August 29, 2011

Calling Haven't Got a Clue!

Last week at the garage sales, I found what's been on my treasure-hunt list for years:  an old black phone.

Years ago, my Dad bought one secondhand. We always said it could be used as a murder weapon.  So, when I started writing the Booktown Mysteries back in 2006, I decided that Tricia should have a classic phone on the cash desk of her mystery bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue.  (Hmmm ... maybe it'll be a murder weapon some day.  )

Anyway, I've seen retro phones for sale on Amazon for about a hundred bucks, but I wanted a REAL one, and I didn't want to pay $80-$300.  (I saw a refurbished phone similar to mine online for $299 plus shipping.  It's a Kellogg 1000 series phone.  If you're really interested, you can read about it here.)

When I staggered to the car under the weight of a big box AND this phone, Mr. L's lip curled.  "What is THAT?"

"It's Tricia's phone.  I have to have it."


"It's Tricia's phone.  I'll clean it up."

Only it sat in my minivan for a week before I plucked up the courage to touch it again.  It really was disgusting.  It must have been stored in a barn or a garage for a L-O-N-G time. (Note the ex-spider home on the receiver.)

Cruddy phone back

 Here's a front view:
Dirty phone

The first thing I did was wet a paper towel to get the majority of the crud off of it.  Again.  DISGUSTING!  Then I tinkered with the dial.  I took off the part with the finger holes and figured I'd just move it.  Oh no.  There's a whole brass thingy with lots of cogs and stuff that was jammed.  So I messed with it with a screwdriver (and I'm sure my Dad, the tinkerer, was standing over my shoulder the whole time), got it unstuck, and then squirted it liberally with WD-40.  Voila!  It started moving again.  I put the thing back together and started on the receiver.

Ugh!  Even more disgusting!  I removed a outer ring and the mouthpiece cover and found it filled with yucky yellow stuff. I  don't know what it was, but it went into the trash PDQ!  Did the same to the earpiece, but that wasn't as bad.  Then I dug out the Murphy's Oilsoap and gave it a thorough going-over.  And . . . don't you think Tricia would be proud to have this phone on her cash desk?

Mr. L said, "You're not really going to use that, are you?"

Truthfully, I don't know.  I would need to go to Radio Shack and see if I can get some kind of adapter, but if I can get the old girl working, I'd like to install her in my office.

It's not the same phone as we had when I was a kid--that had a more Art Deco handle--but for now, I'm pretty happy with old Black Beauty.  And by the way, I paid $5 for it.

Black Beauty Phone

Don't you just love a bargain?