Nostalgia Day 3: My Wall Phone

October 03, 2012
I purchased a 1940's Western Electric 354 black wall phone from a few years ago. I think it was about $90.

Designed by Henry Dreyfus and put into service in 1937, the Western Electric 354 is the wall version of the popular 302 or "Lucy Phone".This phone is commonly misrepresented as Bakelite, but in fact Western Electric never made any phones using Bakelite (other than for the handsets). They didn't think it was tough enough for long service life. The body of this phone is thermal plastic.

(This is from the ericofon website)

The phone has been refurbished, and it does work but we rarely use it. The receiver has a pointed back as opposed to a flat back, and it's not comfortable to rest on your shoulder. I love the way it looks, but as far as I know the ringer can't be turned down. It has a pretty loud ring, and one of my dogs always barks whenever he hears it.

Here is my Western Electric model 354 on the wall of my laundry room. A vintage laundry day photo of my Dad's relatives is in the red frame and a vintage photo of my Mom's Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt is on the right. (My Mom is older than this Aunt. My Great-Grandma on the left had 11 children)

There is some glass glare but I love these old photos.

Besides the pointed backside of the receiver, the cord is entirely too short to talk for very long. It's more of a decoration, and maybe an emergency phone if the electricity was out.

A corded wall phone with a rotary dial was the phone of my childhood. The receiver had a flat back that rested between your chin and shoulder and the cord was long enough to wash dishes, cook on the stove and get in the refrigerator while talking.

We did not have a private line, instead a "party line". In this day and age of each person having their own personal cell phone, imagine our one family wall phone and a multi-family line that several of our neighbors also shared. Sometimes you had to wait to make a call until your neighbors finished their call. I think people used to listen in on other's conversations. I didn't, but I sure picked up the receiver during neighbor's phone calls checking if they were off yet.

My vintage wall phone, another reminder of days gone by...


Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special
Thanks for reading my blog, Carlene

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  1. Oh Carlene, you must know now much I LOVE that!!!!! And the, how nice to have!! We got the desk version this summer for the kitchen, and that's all my kids will use. They fight over who will answer it. Funny thing is the girls both have cell phones, but they all love the rotary phone. Mine has a long enough cord so I can use it in the kitchen. My mom had a gold wall phone and I swear the cord was a mile long...she could go all over the house, lol. The power goes out a lot here, so it's really practical for us, plus it makes me feel like Lucy. Love this post Carlene:-)

  2. Great phone, Carlene. I love all things from days gone by. I have an original cobra phone from ericofon and it is sitting by my bed. I had it in my room as a teen. :) Love the photos, too!

  3. Very cool phone! I think I have the "copy cat" version from Pottery Barn a few years ago. Agree, looks great...but not very comfortable for using...which I have had to do on occasion. We are so spoiled with our cordless phone these days aren't we?? Chat soon, laurel

  4. Carlene this is such a fun series of posts! I love your old wall phone!
    hugs, Linda

  5. I remember the dial phones and the party lines. My grandma never used the phone, but she would tell us, don't you listen to them talking...
    do you remember how to use a pay phone without money? terrible...but us kids had it figured out!
    Love all those memories!!

  6. Great minds think alike! I was planning on publishing a very similar post with a "new" phone I recently purchased. Oh, well. I'll come up with something else. Love your phone! I've got a Restoration Hardware model in our upstairs hallway that rings a little too loud, too.

  7. Love your phone! I've been collecting old phones too. I now have 4 and they're all in working order. I'm slowly adding them throughout the house. At least they work when the electricity goes out, which happens quite often. They are loud indeed, sounds like a firehouse when the phone rings. :0)
    My hubby talks of his childhood and speaks of the "Party line". I can see our children's eyes glaze over when listening to him.

  8. What an awesome phone! This is a real beauty!

  9. I think it's wonderful you still have one! in this day an d age it's a good idea to have an old phone hanging around in case the cell service goes out....

  10. Hi Carlene: Oh, the memories. We didn't have any phone for a long time when I was at home. I would go to my aunt's house and my cousins ( teen agers and older than me) would talk for hours and I secretly watched them and thought they were so grown up and so lucky. When we finally got one, it was the party line and our neighbor talked for hours and we finally had to say"Lucille, we really need to use the phone". I remember our number was 14W5 and we had to talk to the operator to get the numbers..Great memories, thanks~!..Happy Thursday..Judy

  11. OH Carlene, that's a fabulous phone whether for use or for show! Your old photos make me smile, especially the one of all the girls and the washboard. Oh my goodness, aren't you glad you have those? I just love it!

  12. I love vintage phones, radios and clocks, Carlene, so I think this is just fabulous! Very cool that it works. We have an old candlestick phone, and I'd love to get it worked on so it might be able to work again, but not sure if it's possible or not. I also remember party lines!

  13. OK, I'm showing my age, but I grew up with one sort of like that. I remember it well, AND our old phone number too!!

  14. I love the phone. I specially love the photographs, fantastic.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. I remember the party line thing from when I was really little

    LOL Loved this post! :)

  16. Oh I love it and I adore the photos beside it! Perfect decor for a laundry room! Thanks for sharing them! :)

  17. I remember the wall phone. It was in a special phone nook of the kitchen ( ranch house ) and the cord was barely long enough to get to sit on the floor and talk to girlfriends for awhile...

  18. That classic wall telephone is worth to envy. It is simply lovely.


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