“The First Time I Used A Phone” by Doug Fincher

June 15, 2020 - I was in the fourth Grade when I heard a phone ringing in Principal Oran Wheeler’s office one day. Seeing no one was around, I did something I’d never done. Since we didn’t have a phone --- and I had never used one --- I (with fear and trembling) picked it up and did what I’d seen others do. I said “Hello.” When a lady asked me to get Principal Wheeler to the phone, I was a Paul Revere racing down the hall with the good news.

When we got back to the office, Mr. Wheeler noticed the phone was hung up. He said with his kind, gentle way, “Thank you for answering the phone, Henry, but next time just lay the receiver on the desk.”

I was born in the middle of The Great Depression (1933) and many people were poor. I got my first shoes in the third grade, we didn’t have electricity or running water when most folks did. We didn’t own a car. Daddy bought our first car when I left for the Seminary in Missouri when I was eighteen years of age. These were the old days… “coal oil lamps,” “number please” phones, etc. I don’t remember folks back then complaining about being poor. Maybe it was because we were all in the same boat.

After learning how to use a phone, I hoped to prove myself to Mr. Wheeler by answering it again… but I never again caught it ringing.