Sunday, January 25, 2009

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Growing up in San Francisco in the 50's was a magical time. Before hippies, riots, freedom marches, drive by shootings and laws like not being able to ride in the back of a pick up truck.

There were no freedom polices, no safety police, you could climb up trees in Golden Gate park and would not be arrested for being a terrorist!

Times have changed.

One of my first heroes, was not superman or the spider man, but it was just the plain "Phone Man"

One day there came a phone truck and parked in front of our house. The phone trucks were not vans like nowadays, they were pickup trucks with utility bodies on the back and a ladder rack painted brown. With a big round bell logo.
The Phone Company was Pacific Telephone before the divestiture that broke up all the baby bells into smaller companies, then years later became one again....kind of funny..
Anyway this man came and told my parents that they needed to run a cable to the back yard and put up a telephone pole.
The next day a big truck came with a whole bunch of workers, they dug a hole and plopped a 4o ft pole into the corner of the back yard.
A couple of days later another truck came and dug up the yard and buried a cable and a concrete box.
A few days later another man came and sat on the ground and stripped all the wires in the cable and sliced them to the cable going up the pole.
All of these guys for some reason tolerated me.
I was about 7.
Then the neatest thing happened, the next day the first guy came back and put on some really big belt and climbed up the pole and was working about 30 ft up. He had a lineman's phone set and was talking to someone. Then they ran wires to some of the houses and occasionally would return to connect wires in the following years. The would let me keep the wire scraps......

Anyway , I really got interested in "The Phone Man" so I found a belt and a couple of tools along with a screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters, and proceeded to climb up the pole.

I would get up as high as about 6 or 8 feet, but it seemed like 20 ft for me, and would hang on the pole, just like the Phone Man.
Well, I got better at climbing the pole and using the tools in an imaginary junction box, the real one was about 40 ft off the ground.

Finally one day, I decided to do some proper work and there was this lead covered cable going up the pole from the ground junction box.
I wonder what would happen if I did some work on it?

I was only able to cut into if maybe a 1/4 of an inch, that was all the work for that day. My assignment was finish and it was quitting time.

Then, the next day a couple of real phone men arrived and were doing some work trying to fix something.
This time I didn't' come out to meet them, a little later I came out to check out and get an colleagues update on the work.

They asked if I had cut the cable.
Who Me?
They had to open up the cable and splice some wires, to repair the problem.
I did get punished. Not my my parents, then never said anything, not by the phone man, the phone pole got me.

One day I was lashed up on the phone pole, maybe 7 or 8 feet up, doing my daily work, and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground, laying flat on my back.
Seems my safety belt which was some old leather belt I appropriated somewhere, gave up it's "safety" margin.

I got a better stronger belt.
Maybe that why I have back problems in my old age.........Naaaa!
So that's my telephone story, kinda funny that my last vocation was telecommunications and telephone systems............


  1. We lived in Oakland until I was 9 years old.......I too have fond memories of 'the city by the bay'

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.



About Me

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From TV News to owning radio communications business, seen technology grow and change the way we live. Hobbies are still some photography and reading, satellite pickup. Did catering and cooking at wineries, taught cooking classes and culinary related ventures. Do a few regional cooking classes down here at my house from time to time, in between visiting and living in this beautiful country. Some tech consulting and lots of opinionated chatter.