Accessible social media In the Sixties
I have to admit that this is kind of a TRUE CONFESSIONS piece. I keep thinking about writing more about my life and growing up as an extremely visually impaired child. Honestly most of the stories just relate to growing up and not so much about doing it as a child with a visual impairment.
I grew up in Chicago and reluctantly moved to Florida when I was 17. If you were able to go to the link in the previous blog entry, you were able to see some of what our home and neighborhood were like. Although, now as an adult, I realize how wonderful it was to live in such a secluded neighborhood, I used to think it was true torture to live so far from all the fun my classmates were having. The truth is that I probably would have not been part of the fun crowd even if I lived write in the middle of where they all lived. Maybe there was no fun crowd?
Anyway, in the early sixties my younger sister and I found the fun crowd between the busy signal beeps when you called our favorite radio station. I believe this was WLS. This magic called the beep line only existed for about six months. I can’t believe it took them that long to figure out how to block the spaces in between the beeps.
This truly was accessible social media. You did not need vision; you could do this from a wheel chair. You did not even need your hands if you had another way to dial the phone. I don’t even think we had touch tone phones then so you could hold a pencil in your mouth and dial with the pencil.
Once you reached the busy signal, any time that school was out, you could talk between the beeps. An entire set of rules were created without any committee or big discussion.
We would start by saying, any-boys-on-this-line. You had to time your words between the beeps. The only way my sister could do this was to move the phone back and forth from her mouth. You had to make sure you were not in range of the phone when it was in the away from her face position. If you were lucky, 2 or 3 boys would answer. Everyone was very polite and nicely waited for their turn. Our parents would have been so proud, or maybe not?
We could go on like this for hours. I don’t think you were even charged for the call because a call never actually went through.
We were careful about getting the boys phone numbers and not giving out our number. Did we actually meet up with any of these boys? That is another story for another time.