Home > Fiction > FF – Back in the Day

FF – Back in the Day

Here is my story for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle. This week’s photo was contributed by J Hardy Carroll.

To read the other stories, click on the blue froggy.

Copyright J Hardy Carroll


“What’s that, Dad?”

“A phone, Son.”

“Whaaaat? It’s huge!”

“It is, Son. Let me show you how it works. Smell that?”

“Urgh, yes.”

“That’s wee. And that stickiness under your shoe? Chewing gum. Now, grab the phone book.”

“There’s loads of pages missing!”

“Par for the course, Son. And ignore all the cards offering “a good time”. Now, lift the big black thing, take this coin and put it in the slot.

“It keeps falling through, Dad.”

“Common problem. But that doesn’t matter. See the end of the cord?”

“It’s been ripped off, Dad.”

“Yep! Ah, the good old days…”



  1. July 26, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Yep, that’s just about how they “work” nowadays. Funny story!


  2. Merbear74
    July 26, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I haven’t seen a “pay phone” in ages!!


    • July 27, 2017 at 7:40 am

      I actually saw one next last week to the pub where we went for my Dad’s birthday tea. It was one of the traditional reb ones (they’re the only surviving ones now). I was going to go in for old time’s sake but decided against (see story!).


  3. July 26, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    I like this. All of the little touches of pay phones.


  4. July 26, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Ugh! I wouldn’t go near one of those without a hazmat suit. Enjoyed your trademark humour, as always. 😁


    • July 27, 2017 at 7:40 am

      You certainly take your life in your hands 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dale
    July 26, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Indeed! There is actually a pay phone just outside the convenience store across the street from my house. Apparently, the original owner of this house regularly used it for… special conversations…. 😉


    • July 27, 2017 at 7:41 am

      That’s where all those little cards come in handy 😉


  6. Jelli
    July 26, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Oh, man, that does bring back the memories. Late nights waiting in line at the only pay phone in town just to talk for 5 min (limited time so others could use phone) to your best friend in the next town. Only took a dime for local call, it was a hard earned, well spent dime, too.


    • July 27, 2017 at 7:42 am

      And the doors of the traditional red ones in this country are very very heavy too. So it’s a struggle just to squeeze inside with your mates 🙂
      When I first used a payphone it cost 2p. How much is a “dime”? 10c?


      • Jelli
        July 27, 2017 at 7:49 pm

        A dime is $0.10 USD, and a quarter is $0.25 USD… let me see that would be…The conversion app won’t even go that low. It’s $0.77 USD to 1pnd British.


  7. July 26, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Hey, I remember those days? So where do modern teens deposit their chewing gum — or should I ask? Good one, Ali.


    • July 27, 2017 at 7:43 am

      Under their school desk 😦 I’m glad you liked it!


  8. July 26, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Good one.


  9. July 26, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Glorious piece of fond nostalgia!


  10. July 27, 2017 at 3:16 am

    I dimly remember pay phones. None of them every worked — except at the airport. Everywhere else, they were broken. So when they disappeared, I didn’t miss them because … they didn’t work anyway. Except as a good place for Superman to swap garments, of course.


    • July 27, 2017 at 7:45 am

      That’s a point. Where does the Superman of today change? Does he use a handy cafe (“toilets for the use of customers only”) and have to buy a Danish before the change?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. July 27, 2017 at 9:47 am

    The red phone boxes here always doubled up as public toilets and advert boards for ladies of the night! Brilliant.

    Click to read my FriFic


    • July 27, 2017 at 9:52 am

      Yeah, funnily enough I saw a traditional red phone box last week when we went for my Dad’s birthday meal on the way to Falmouth. I almost went in but all those horrible memories came flooding back!


  12. July 27, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Only one thing left to do in that phone box… but maybe when he’s older. (I can’t believe I said that). 😦


    • July 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Ooh, I say 🙂 To be honest, the windows of those things were so scratched they afforded more privacy than the average teenager got at home!


  13. July 27, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Dear Ali,

    So, this week, any romanticizing I’ve done over Britain’s picturesque red phone boxes has been dispelled. Your story made me ever so grateful for cell phones. Well written as always.




    • July 27, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      Dear Rochelle,
      I’m afraid they suffered some abuse back in the day. Now they’re rarer, though, I think they’re taken better care of 🙂


  14. July 27, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Hahahaha! True in the U.S. Too! Same destruction!


  15. July 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    That’s a slice of life! Gives me a chuckle 😀


  16. July 27, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Ah yes, the good old days. I remember seeing dramas where the character ripped out the phone book page. It must have been very common. In Harry Potter, they used a public telephone booth to enter the Department of Magic. Good writing with good dialogue, Ali. 😀 — Suzanne


    • July 27, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      People in so many TV programmes rip pages out I’m surprised there are any left 🙂
      I’m glad you liked it!


  17. July 27, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Lovely piece here, Ali. Chuckled at the dad asking his son to ignore the ‘good times’ listings. Well done.


    • July 28, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Thanks! Good job his dad remembered in time that those cards would be there 🙂


  18. July 27, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I am stunned that there are not dinosaurs visible through those windows…


    • July 28, 2017 at 7:01 am

      No dinosaurs. I can see your car, though hahaha 🙂


      • July 28, 2017 at 8:07 am

        Well, I guess the dinosaurs had to go first or else I’d have nothing to run it on…

        Liked by 1 person

  19. July 27, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Oh, what I would give to fondle the Button A and Button B just one more time. 4d I would say. Most may have to google that!!


    • July 28, 2017 at 7:04 am

      I was too young to remember pre-decimalisation money 🙂 Though there was still plenty of it floating about in drawers and whatnot at home.

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 28, 2017 at 10:54 am

        If you had the knack you could tap out digits on the handset cradle and get free calls. I did!


  20. July 27, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Love the advice the dad gives his son. Great story! Haven’t seen one of those phones in years!


    • July 28, 2017 at 7:06 am

      I saw one just last week. The old red phone boxes were so loved that although the more “modern” ones were mostly ripped out, many of the red ones remain intact. I think some have even been sold overseas.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. July 27, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    those were the golden years, indeed. the phone booth has now been relegated to a place where it can be used to offer much-needed relief in case of an emergency. 🙂


    • July 28, 2017 at 7:07 am

      Haha, yes. To be fair, they often served that purpose way back when too!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. July 27, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Sad isn’t it? I wish i didn’t remember the good days quite so well.. 😟


    • July 28, 2017 at 7:08 am

      Ha! The first time I used one of those phone boxes was for a task we were given in the Cubs – make a phone call. I had to walk to a phone box as my parents didn’t have a phone at home (most people didn’t when I was little).


      • July 28, 2017 at 12:14 pm

        Aw… Poor little cub. Did ya figure it out? 😉


        • July 28, 2017 at 12:25 pm

          Yeah, I seem to recall being quite proud of myself 🙂


  23. July 28, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Ali, I was laughing out loud at this. The minute the smell hit, I thought, this is hilarious. Yes, the good old days were quite primitive, but they were all we had. Of course, portable phones have germs galore on them, so, maybe some kind of nostalgia kick will ensue when they become obsolete. Hmmm? 😀


    • July 28, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      At least if I’m the only one using my mobile, they were probably my germs to start with 🙂
      I’m glad you liked it!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. July 28, 2017 at 10:21 am

    True, even my children will not recognise if they find one. They have completely disappeared in my city.


    • July 28, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      We just have the old red boxes as monuments of a sort.


  25. July 28, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Son of Vandal – don’t think it will make the Oscars!


    • July 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      Boo, I won’t be writing to Mr Spielberg with my screenplay then after all 😦


  26. Sarah Ann
    July 28, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    The best bit was when the pips went, you pushed in your next 10p only for it to fly through, and you’d get cut off. Thanks for the nostalgia and making me feel old. ☺ I saw a short story competition advertised this week where historical stories have to be set a mere 35-years ago – ouch.


    • July 28, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Gotta love the old “fly straight through” situation. Sometimes if you really shoved it in it worked.
      On the plus side I can write about my childhood. I was there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  27. michael1148humphris
    July 29, 2017 at 5:37 am

    When you lose your 10p, dial 0, tell the operator, give her your address and you will recieve a free book of postage stamps. Happy days.


  28. July 29, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Every detail is crystal clear 🙂


  29. July 30, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    Great read…save this….;)


  30. gahlearner
    July 31, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Ah, the memories… 😀 That’s exactly how they (not) work. And then there’s the person outside hammering at the door, claiming it’s urgent…


    • August 1, 2017 at 7:31 am

      Last time I had someone hammering at the door was when I was living in Stuttgart and phoning my mum. He got really confused when I yelled back in German 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • gahlearner
        August 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm

        Hah, We’re always baffled when someone else speaks our language.


  31. August 1, 2017 at 4:16 am

    Interesting take on the prompt 🙂

    Click Here to see what Mrs. Dash Says


    • August 1, 2017 at 7:36 am

      Thanks, I’m glad you liked it 🙂


  32. August 1, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Taking the prompt literal. Nice touch! Well executed!


    • August 1, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Thanks, I’m glad you liked it!


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