Telephone ad extolling the virtues of interrupted suppers

An early ad for extra landlines pimps the miracle of talking on the phone during the family dinner, and advises that Junior will love a "portable" phone that he can carry down to the living room when he's done with it.

"It's for you, we don't mind the phone cord in the dinner soup"


  1. Why do they have the bird cage right over the dinner table? And Why are they having raman noodles for dinner.
    This family sucks.

    1. Is it that hard to decode a picture? They are quite obviously not having Ramen for dinner, but eating soup. The soup will be followed by the main course, as indicated by the fork and knife framing each plate.

  2. And WTF is up with ALL of their hair-dos? And why is that electrical outlet right there on the wall about one foot higher than the dining (card?) table.
    I find this ad disturbing on so many levels.

    Not as disturbing as “Loves Baby Soft” though.

    1. When I was a lad, before we had air or gravity, the only phone in the house (a party line) was about five feet up the kitchen wall. The cord was just short enough to make it impossible to get the phone to your head while sitting under it. Ours was yellow.

      1. Don’t mess with me man. WHEN I WAS A KID, we had this massive, black TELEPHONE, in the kitchen. I think it weighed about 12 or 15 pounds. I’m still a little scared of the phone police, who would come and get you if you made any prank calls.

        “Is your refrigerator running?”

        1. The Ernest Hesses also have the dark wall sockets, but they have a light cover plate. What’s up with that? Our wall sockets and cover plates were dark brown.

          Also, unless Mrs. Ernest Hesse is an incredibly bad cook, that’s breakfast.

      2. You’re showing your age. Do you remember when the “modern” push button phones came out? We had a party line and I was always punished for listening in on the neighbor’s conversation. Ah the years of rotary dial phones and black and white TV’s with “rabbit ears”.

    1. Now that you mention it… HOW did you figure it out??

      It looks like he’s sucking on the upper leg of his mom’s chair?

      Is this the sixties version of photoshop disasters? :D

  3. We had a house like that. There were telephone jacks (old style) in the kitchen, the master bed room, and the tv room. Before the breakup of Bell, you had to rent Bell approved telephones from Bell. Being able to move a phone from room to room was a bonus.
    A “Modern” home in the 60’s, late 50’s would that wiring built in as a selling point.

    As for the electrical outlet. It was for the percolator and toaster.

  4. I wonder if this is actually advertising extra phones that you would rent from the phone company, rather than extra phone lines. Kinda like the way cable TV boxes are now.

    1. Exactly. Assuming they operated like Bell Canada in Ontario, Bell would only connect their own hardware to their system, and you couldn’t buy it, only rent. They are pushing extra phones because you paid every month for every bit of hardware (including, I seem to recall, a longer cord). The phone was paid for in about a year and a half, and since those old Northern Telecom units never ever broke down, Bell could look forward to a lifetime of gravy.

      I would have killed for a phone in my room. Calling a girl meant dialing from the kitchen in full earshot of the living room. You kids today don’t know what your parents went through just to reproduce.

  5. Is it just me, or can anyone else see the wife with a butcher’s knife in her hand instead…but still have the exact same expression?

    So many repressed emotions in the nuclear family.

    Also @Jake0748: It may be ramen, but at least Johnny has a nice tall glass of American Milk!

    1. Is it just me, or can anyone else see the wife with a butcher’s knife in her hand instead…but still have the exact same expression?

      I just did a Google Street View of Cedar Circle Drive in Catonsville. If a nuclear family psychological horror flick hasn’t been shot there yet, it should be.

  6. “The bird cage is wearing a diaper?”

    Over the dinner table- I should hope so. Also is the angle on that phone against the table such that rotary dialing would require acrobatics?

    1. Well the mounting location is fine for left handed people. I will also point out that the early “hanging it from the switchook” design is vastly superior to the later, “fixed handset hanger, switchook behind,” design where it was easy to mistakenly THINK you’d hung up the phone.

  7. We had an outlet like that over our kitchen table (a house built in the 50s). I live in an 80 year old house now and have all manner of oddly placed outlets.

    Two things though:

    1. “The beige color set harmonizes with contemporary furnishings.” That is the best sentence ever.

    2. This happy family is from Catonsville, MD – Greater Baltimore, hon! Home of John Waters. In fact, Lutherville, where Waters grew up, is on the same loop highway as Catonsville. I’m envisioning fabulous Waters scenes taking place in this room. THINK ABOUT IT.

  8. Computers were the same way back then. You (being a large company or a university) would rent them from IBM, and you’d pay $2000 more a month for an extra 4K of core.

  9. I think that’s the mom from Terminator 2. I can’t help wondering how Wolfie’s doing.

  10. Back then, nobody had answering machines, and only the wealthy had answering services. People often called around dinner time as that was the best time to catch people at home. Even well in to the 70s we had a phone in the kitchen and were often interrupted before, during, or after dinner.

  11. You can tell it’s vintage, because nobody except the ‘man of the house’ has a first name… “…the Ernest Hesses lead a busy life.” Really?

    And yeah, I totally thought that kid was one of Monty Python’s Gumbys for awhile.

  12. Just signed up, seeing if this works.

    “Grind the scent into carrot wine!” Screamed the captain of turds.
    “East kitchen knows too much, it must die.”

    Yay! I’m adding to the discussion.

  13. We had that same model wall-phone in our mobile home between 1972 and 1979. Leased from American Telephone & Telegraph. Ours was dark red, and had a nifty doorbellish “ding-dong” ring, which I’ve never heard another phone do. My mother liked that a lot, since the traditional ring was too damned loud for our cozy little aluminum house.

    In November 1979, we took a big technological step backward when we moved into my great aunt’s log cabin in Montana. That house actually had a hand-cranked telephone just like this, on a party line. You could pick up the earpiece and listen in while the Widow Davis down the block gossiped away to her Aunt Bea in Missoula.

    We lived there until April 1980, after which we moved back to California, bought a couple of push-button phones, and rejoined the late twentieth century already in progress.

  14. Grew up in a tract house, with a single beige wall-unit phone, located in the kitchen. Looked just like that one. Private conversation on the phone was impossible. We didn’t get a second phone (located in my bedroom) until I paid for it. A spiffy little blue push-button model. My lifeline to the ouside world.

    I think I’ve seen these people before in an Outer Limits episode. They all shared the features of mom’s undereye circles and the boy’s prominent upper lip. I’m wondering where they’re hiding Elly May (Donna Douglas). She was so ugly!

  15. And this differs from current cell phone (lack of) etiquette … how, exactly?

    Additional extensions were a Big Thing at the time. Both as a somewhat upscale convenience/privacy item, and because that was back when all instruments had to be rented from the telephone company so marketing them was a significant cash cow. (And why they’re suggesting that you give the kid a phone you can easily swipe back if you need it or if you need to take it away from them.)

    1. I hope you didn’t throw it away! Those defective models missing a mute button or on/off switch are worth quite a bit on the collectors’ market.

  16. Ours was avocado green; it went so well with the dark wood paneling and the shag carpet.

    But forget the phone; where can I get a Hover-Cage?

  17. I once lived someplace where the local phone number was 2 digits. I think the number was 14 or 16, but I can’t remember. Rotary phone on a table in the front hall.

    Now that I think about it, about half of the places I’ve lived only had one phone.

    The more things change….I don’t think my children have ever had a babysitter with a land line. It seems everyone 25 or younger has a cell phone only. So we’re kind of back to the concept of using a single phone: per person instead of per household, though.

  18. Hm, the bird cage is clearly located behind the woman… it’s also attached to the wall and not the ceiling.

  19. The Bezos family must have been very similar to these Hesseans. Mother Bezo must have related to “I do alot of shopping by phone…” “…saves me hundreds of steps…” with little Jeffery close at hand.

    Meanwhile, having a phone in Johnny’s room let’s him discuss the great opportunities for foreign travel with his Marine recruiter. No butch cut left behind!

  20. I remember a tv ad that I saw in the 90’s for cell phones that also tried to promote interruptions as a good thing. It was trying to show that you could work from the comfort of your own home – it showed a working mother giving her young daughter a bath who then stops to take an important call. Inconvenient at best and unsafe at worst.

  21. I’ve always loved the naïveté expressed on this forum.

    It was a big deal to get an extension phone back even in the 70’s.

  22. The ad oozes a cheery enthusiasm for technology. That is nothing for any boingboing reader to sneer at.

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