|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...