Scholars of Sturges: Joe Musser, Emeritus Professor of English

When I was in college back in the sixties, the only telephone in our dorm was a payphone at the end of the hall. If anyone called (your parents, a girlfriend), the RA usually would answer the phone and then yell out, “Hey, Musser! Your mother’s calling!” So everyone in the hall knew who was calling you. When we wanted to call someone, we would usually reverse the charges by dialing “0” for the operator, then give her (it was always a woman) the number, telling her you’d like to call collect. Or, like many other students, I had devised a way to let my parents know that I was at the phone and they could call me. I’d dial their number, letting it ring just twice, then hang up. They would then call me, which would be cheaper than my calling them collect. If you were not able to reverse the charges, you’d need a stack of coins to keep feeding the phone, and if you ran out of coins, the connection abruptly terminated. To contact friends on campus we’d walk to their rooms, or seek them in their favorite study locations.

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