Corpus Christi Telephone Booths (1960s/70s)

 

PHONE BOOTHS=In the 1960s, we had a modern rotary phone in house on 2009 Antelope, of course this all changed in 1970 with hurricane Celia. After the short 642 Naples rental stint, we were back in stone age next door at 723 Doss. These booths were all over place back then if they didn't blow away with Celia. Lucky for us there was not one, but three of them corner of Port & Leopard in Hasty Tasty restaurant parking lot. There were slots for nickels, dimes, quarters, and at time, phone call was 10 cents. Didn't have to dial operator as earlier years, and the phones had a prefix of letters and digits like TU-9604, this would change later but for now fine. When and if I wanted to call friends, I would give them the number and they could call me as a predetermined time. Worked both ways if I wanted to call them, and not waste a dime, would let them know what time would call, otherwise their parents would answer, say not home or doing homework, and well, I just wasted dime.

So from our house to the phone booth was west on Antelope, shortcut along Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks south, then cut thru Ordner's Car Lot, and into Hasty Tasty parking lot. Whoever was supposed to call me had all 3 numbers. If I was calling them no problem.

As a teen, I used to spend a LOT of time in these phone booths, they are damned near next best thing to birth control, there is no way to comfortably stand or sit in one. I have seen a handful with little triangular seat, but only few back ten, none of these had them. Sure, they probably not intended for lovelorn teen spending 1/2 night standing there talking to girl across town but it was what it was. At first my girlfriend was a lovely blonde named Beckie Cross who went to Carroll, must have spent 2-4 hours a night talking to her in one of these booths. Eh, ok, longer ha ha. While talking, would watch traffic go by, check out Lew Williams Chevrolet light up across street, trucks, cars, and sometimes 18 wheelers you have to pause conversation while they rumbled past, mostly north to Port.

Later on would be Cindy Sullivan, who I started dating at Ray. This was some uber long conversations, she would call me, and like puppy dog waiting for scrap with big eyes, I stood there waiting for phone to ring as to not call her house to get her in trouble. And I was trouble. Still am! The cold was the worst, as it blew in straight down Port from north, stunk like hell with the refineries belching all their chemicals, depended on what day and norther is what you smelled, sometimes rotten eggs like sulfur, other times, charcoal, other times just mix of stuff gag you so would talk in booth with shirt pulled up over nose and mouth like Taliban guy. And try to stay warm by moving around, even if coat. Summer not bad, just leave door open and get sweaty anyways. And when cold, when time to hang up, go home, would go down Leopard past Coca Cola, Noes Café & Marios Barber shop, turn on Lester & pretty much home, didn't want to go down railroad tracks midnight or 1-2 in morning, super dark, even with mercury vapor lights from I-37 there on Antelope. Same thing with hot summer night.

And of course there were the vatos that would drive past and think I was a chick with long hair 1/2 way down back 'eh babeee!' and 'masota!' only to see me turn around and then realize I was dude. A number of times the girl on other side would say 'what is going on?' and I would just say 'people driving past' ha ha, not letting on that someone though was a girl with long hair. You could find a lot of coins in these too I may add, sometimes people would make long distance call, only to have it kick out their coins after they left booth for some reason, several times found $-$10 of quarters in them was like Coushatta payoff.

The privacy thing was biggest thing for me back then, sure there were pay phones in Beils Grocery Store, outside HEB, KAYO gas station, so all over place, it was just if you going to talk to a loved one, these best way to go. Inside Hasty Tasty too, but not phone "booths" just pay phones on walls.

Amazing how many things a cell phone has replaced now, was talking to one of my boys about it other day who replied with a 'whatever' (teen talk) when I told him about phone booths. Besides phone booths, also desktop and laptop computers, calculators, cameras, there is one cell phone online he showed me has 9 cameras in it what the hell! So here pretty much everyone walking around now with all that replaced stuff in pocket. Well, I had to walk 2 blocks in all sorts of inclement weather to talk to my girlfriend as he rolled his eyes. Sure I have a smartass phone that I really love, and carry with me like ball & chain. And the photos it takes is astonishing clarity. Same with speaking to someone, gone is the cackly static the old phone booths had, especially with someone with a CB radio might have drove past.

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PHOTOS: Photo #1 is a large photo off my site, condensed showing Port & Leopard in 1960s. In foreground is Lew Williams Chevrolet the Jetsons type building slightly visible. #15 across street is HEB, #13 is Hasty Tasty and a arrow points to all three phone booths I used. #19 across street is Sheffields Drive Inn Restaurant & #20 & #21 Auto Center. #5 is Missouri Pacific rail road tracks used to walk down to get to phone booths.

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Photo #2. This is a actual ad for the phone booth. Besides gang scribbling, you could also write down EX girlfriends numbers in there too, and I often wondered how many tings I might have caught by just touching this like a McDonalds kiosk, ewww. Sometimes someone get really mad at whatever, and break out little windows.

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Photo #3. Here is one for you old timers like me. My two youngest boys never seen one until I showed them a working unit in Houston. Of course, usual reaction "whatever poppa" although the younger one tried to bust open coin box, hey, don't do that!

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Photo #4. If you ever wondered how I thought of myself standing on corner of Port & Leopard in middle of night talking sweet to a girl, well this is how I imagined myself. Yea, would change and fly over to the girl's house, rescue her from Lex Luthor her dad, and fly off to El Cue to play pool since was open until 2:00am. Could not drink was underage, but play pool and pinball. Eat frozen burritos. I wonder how Superman changes now no damned phone booths for him anymore, does he have to walk to back of Costco or Academy where they have bathrooms hidden? Maybe use a Miradora.

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Photo #5. wall mounted unit, can find these on ebay under $100, great man cave stuff, but also functional if you still have land line!