Old Friends: Payphones of Tallahassee

Maybe you remember what it felt like, what it sounded like, to use one of these. I remember the dusty plastic cover on the heavy phone book dangling beneath the box. I remember the slight delay between picking up the receiver and hearing the dial tone down the line. I remember the automated voice insisting on more coins in the machine. I remember the road noise, the ringing phone on the other end of the line, the throat clearing anticipation. Most of those sensations are gone, but a few of the old workhorses remain, including this battered old friend rotting away at a gas station just below the campus of Florida A&M University.

Inspired by 2600 Magazine’s longtime obsession with these beautiful, hackable old devices, I keep an eye open for them and try to grab pictures when I can.

There was no dial tone when I placed the dangling speaker to my ear and picked up the other end, but I did hear a strange clicking sound. That may have been the sound of wires striking metal, or the death rattle of the ancient and destroyed mechanism.

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