Can you recall your childhood telephone number?
Over sixty years ago in East Camden, my mother drummed it into my head – WOodlawn 4-0502. The word provided a mnemonic to help remember the phone number. Later, the letters were phased out and replaced by numerals.
In 2011, Carl McDermott shared with readers here a scan of his c.1928-1929 Riverton-Palmyra telephone book.
Riverton Yacht Club’s number was Rivertn-444, and Rivertn-87 rang the school. Back then, a caller rang for the operator and they told her the number for whom they were calling and she manually matched a cord to a jack to connect the parties.
In November 1960, Riverton was the first community in the state to substitute numerals for letters which increased the quantity of usable numeral combinations. The 10-digit number also permitted automated routing of long-distance calls, gradually rendering switchboard operators obsolete.
(Being first in the state to adopt all-numeral telephone numbers is at least better than being known as the place where Japanese beetles entered the United States.)
Area code 201 originally covered all of New Jersey when it was established in 1947. Within just ten years, a growing New Jersey population would need an extra area code. Area code 201 was split to form area code 609. Then 609 split to spawn 856. Over time, other area codes were put into service, and today New Jersey has nine telephone area codes.
In another option, the new area code overlays and covers the same geographic area as the existing area code, which allows existing customers keep their existing phone number. Look for area code 640 to overlay area code 609 later in 2018. NJ.gov predicts that the new area code will last for 46 years.
Who knows where it will end?
We sympathize with today’s parents trying to send their kindergartener off to school knowing their 10-digit home phone number. Then there is Mom’s cell, Dad’s, their work numbers, and more.
Although I still uselessly recall an old phone number, I remember few of today’s without looking at the contact list stored on my phone. -JMc