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In the s, many Bell System phone books showed the allegorical "Spirit of Communications" figure. It was the late s when most U. Some recent telephone books have two front covers. If you open them from one side, you read the white pages; from the other side, the yellow pages. If you try to read past the middle of the book, the pages are upside down. I have a Marlborough, New Zealand phone book of this type. The Phone Book Library reports that Australia's "flip cover" telephone books were phased out in Bell System General System In the pictorial era, often each state, or sometimes each regional telephone company, will have a uniform cover design for all its telephone books for a given year.
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Here, "design" may actually mean the cover illustration, or it may mean the layout of the cover, in which each city can insert a local picture. In , there were patriotic cover pictures for the U. The Bell System had one, and General Telephone had a different one, but they were both used nationwide. There have also been nationwide pictures for yellow pages directories in some years.
Click on thumbnails to see enlargements In my estimation, the most interesting cover illustrations are the Houston and Dallas yellow page covers drawn by Karl Hoefle for a number of years. They always show huge, minutely detailed views of the city from different angles, in line drawings on a yellow background. Because they're so detailed, the artist scatters whimsical little anomalies throughout. For example, he often shows traffic stopped on a section of freeway while a mother cat leads her kittens across. Rarely, a phone book has an inside cover - a page that looks and feels like a cover, but is used to separate the white and yellow pages.
Sometimes the directory is delivered with the inside cover folded inward; when it's unfolded, there is a tab sticking out to help locate the division. Ever since the mids, most U. The numbers are used for clerical purposes, like purchasing ads or ordering out-of-state phone books. Before the directory codes were inaugurated, New Jersey Bell had come up with a different solution. Its phone books had a two-letter code. The first letter represented the white pages coverage area, usually a county; the second letter represented the yellow page coverage area.
Each white pages contained from one to five yellow page areas, so the second letter started at A and went as high as E. When the numeric directory codes were introduced, New Jersey used them alongside its older letter codes.
As our collection grew, we noticed some almost-duplicates. In Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Nassau, there were usually two white page varieties each year.
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What we first noticed was that some had plain spines, showing only the name of the telephone book, but others had either one or two white stars at the top of the spine. On closer examination, the books with the stars didn't have any information pages. Also, they had different ads on the back cover: ads for the telephone company itself, rather than a local business.
We deduced that the ones without the stars were the ones distributed to local customers; the others were for sending out of town. What was the significance of the number of stars? It turned out that they simply had one star in odd-numbered years, two in even. White pages A Associated Press story said that in Brazilian phone books, most numbers were listed under the wrong name. New telephone lines were extremely expensive, but it was cheap to transfer your line to your new address when you moved. As a result, there was a black market in telephone connections. People would sell their line to someone else, and deceptively inform the phone service that they had moved to that address.
Thus, the telephone book still listed the former owner alongside the bartered number. One Los Angeles man wanted an unlisted number, but was unwilling to pay the small surcharge imposed by the telephone company.
Instead, he asked to be listed under the name "Underground Airways", figuring that no one would ever call a nonexistent airline. It didn't quite work out as planned; he got about three calls a month from people whose curiosity was piqued by the listing. It's a quirk of human nature that if enough people see a phone number, some of them will dial it out of sheer curiosity.
About , in a Sunday Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown mentioned a telephone number which I will call xxxx. The artist, Charles M.
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Schulz, had off-handedly used the real phone number of Lee Mendelson, with whom he was collaborating to produce television specials. Starting at a. This is why almost all fictitious telephone numbers now begin with If you dial a number beginning with , the only person you'll disturb is the information operator.
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A prankster in Manhattan purchased almost three inches of whimsical listings left for the "Govt of Montmartre" the real Montmartre is just a neighborhood in Paris. Notice the "Montgolfier Brothers International Aerodrome Authority" the real Montgolfier Brothers were famous for launching the world's first hot-air balloon in The humorless telephone company went to court to justify its dropping those listings.
The first and last listings in the phone book are coveted positions, since they catch more than their share of attention. An individual or company can maneuver for those positions by using false, or partly false, names. In the Chicago white pages, for example, there are ten listings for 'A' -- just plain 'A'. Six of them have occupations e.