Thursday, May 27, 2010


A few summers ago my grandma Virginia was clearing out her large house in preparation to move into small apartment. Many of her belongings were being passed along to children grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We were living here in Kansas at the time so my mom asked if there was anything in particular that I wanted, and she would see if I could have it.

I knew exactly what I wanted.

I remember playing in grandma's room. Climbing on her bed with the piles of silky pillows. methodically going through the drawers in her sunny bathroom. Looking at makeup brushes and nail files and magnifying mirrors. Sitting in front of her jewelry boxes trying on clip on earrings and jewel-set rings and necklaces. Pulling down high heels from her shelves in the closet.

And, I remember sitting in her cream-colored swiveling armchair and playing secretary with her old rotary telephone. The phone was an "old-fashioned" novelty as far back as I can remember, because really I'm not that old. But it was totally awesome and I knew I would love to have it.

Well, as luck would have it, I got it without a fight. (Just kidding--no fighting over family heirlooms allowed.) It's been sitting at my mom's house because it is too heavy for a suitcase. My mom drove it out after the baby was born.

Now, I love old-fashioned things, but I don't want my house to be a museum collection of a bunch of old junk that isn't actually useful in any way. I know that the phone is in working order, but there was just one little problem.

This cord . . . won't quite fit in my phone jack. I did some reconnaissance in my house (our house is old) and amazingly found an older-style phone-jack.

It was a simple thing to take the front cover off.

And I found colored cords corresponding to those on the phone's cord. Except, unfortunately. The jack was dead. No longer connected. Like I said--this house is old.

On to plan B which was Google. And I found all the info I needed to splice the old cord onto a modern phone cord. The main issue is that my phone had three wires and the new ones use two. Apparently the two important wires are the red and the green. The yellow and (if applicable) black wires were for the old party lines.

I looked through my old things and finally found the cord on the right with the right colors I was looking for.

Then I got to stripping and splicing.  I love the internet--it's so empowering.

I stripped the wires from the new cord and just wrapped them around the connectors on the old cord. I guess I could have stripped the wires from the old cord too, but I didn't want to. Then I wrapped them up in electrical tape, and wrapped the whole joint in white duct tape to look nicer.

And it works!

We're excited about it. It's got a lot of character already, and Jeremy thinking about modding it to be a little more steampunk. Either way--it's definitely a keeper.


Anonymous said...

Jeanette, you are amazing!!! If for any reason the other person on the line can't hear you speak, press down on the long. slender button on the handle. I think that's been bypassed for a long time, but when I was a little girl, I remember using that phone and the person I was calling couldn't hear me because I didn't know I had to hold it down! That's so cool, and I love it alongside your 1856 pocket watch, and antique photo! Nonny

Aleatha Shannon said...

totally awesome!

I used google to make my blog look cool. it was awesome, I was like, "I want it to look like this" and I looked it up on google and there were the instructions!

Anna and Stephen said...

You are genius. 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I sent Gigi the link to your blog and she read (and printed) this post. It brought tears to her eyes and she was so tickled!


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