Adventures with phone booths and answering machines
A recent visit to the Mojave desert reminded us of the great, Web 1.0 gem that was the Mojave Phone Booth: a working phone booth in the middle of the desert that became an international sensation, thanks to Godfrey "Doc" Daniels.
From a 2016 "99% Invisible" episode about it:
Doc and his friends returned a year later to the Mojave Phone Booth. And the phone, once silent, was now ringing off the hook. They would take turns answering it and talking with the the people on the other end–and the instant they replaced the receiver, the ringing would start again. The callers were just part of the equation. Travelers started making pilgrimages to the site of the phone and picking it up as well, talking to whomever happened to be dialing in for hours on end. Like some accidental prototype of an internet chat room, it became a place for anonymous interaction and unexpected conversations.
Unfortunately the booth is gone, but it's fun to remember. And all of that reminded us of this article about a small-town movie theater in North Carolina, which records the owner's amusing movie reviews on its answering machine message. (The number still works: 336-226-1488.)
Matthews knew he was famous when the mail got too heavy. Years ago, he mentioned on the answering-machine message that he was sick that week and wouldn’t mind receiving a get-well card. A few days later, the postman showed up with bags. They were stuffed with cards from around the world, many of them addressed, simply, “Movie Man, Graham, North Carolina.”