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 DIRTY and DISGUSTING."
"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.)
Here's a front view:
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.
Don't you just love a bargain?