1. Dial phones. You put your finger in the hole and turned the dial until your finger hit the finger-stop, then you let go.2. There was no 911, you called the Operator (dialing "O") and asked for the police or fire or ambulance.3. When you dialed "O" you got an operator on one ring. She (always a she) would help you make long distance call, check a line, connect you to repair, or whatever.4. Long distance calls were staggeringly expensive - dollars per minute, back when a dollar bought two or three gallons of gas.5. There was no VoiceMail. Maybe a few people had these newfangled cassette answering machines in the 1970's. When you called someone, you let it ring TEN TIMES so they could stop what they were doing and go to THE phone.6. Yes, most houses had ONE phone, usually in the kitchen, mounted on the wall. If you were rich, you had an extension in the parent's bedroom.7. If you were really rich, or just annoyed by your kids, you might have a "children's line" for the kids. It would be listed in the "phone book" below your name, as "children's line".8. You used THE phone book (there was only one) to look up a phone number. If you could not find it, you'd call directory assistance, which was a FREE service, and they would look up the number for you.9. There was one phone book and ONE yellow pages. If you wanted to find a commercial service, the Yellow pages was it. If you wanted to advertise your business, the Yellow pages was it.10. When you called a company, you got a receptionist or an operator, who would then re-direct your call. There were no recordings or DTMF telephone trees, directories, or "Press Numero Ocho para Espanole". If the company was closed, the phone would just ring and no one would answer - not even a recording.11. You did not dial a 10-digit number to reach anyone. The only time you used area codes was when dialing long distance (if you are really, really old, you remember a time before area codes, when all long distance calls went through an operator and were prohibitively expensive to make and took minutes to connect).12. For local calls, you often didn't have to dial even seven numbers. You dialed the last number of the exchange and then the four digits. So, for example, you would dial "5-3253" for a local call to connect to "655-3253".13. People used mnemonics for phone numbers. "655-3253" would be listed in an advertisement (or even by the telco) as "OLeander 5-3253" or "OL5-3253".14. If you are really, really old, you remember picking up the phone and asking the operator to connect you - as the phone did not have a dial.15. If you were poor, or there was not sufficient service in your area, you would have a "party line" which you would share with other neighbors. If someone else was on the phone, you could not use it. But you could listen in to their phone calls. Each person had their own number, but had a unique ring sequence (the source of today's ident-a-ring).16. If you called someone, and they were on the phone, you'd get a busy signal, not a recording. Many kids today don't even know what a busy signal is, or sounds like!17. If you called someone and they weren't there, but someone else answered, people took messages on pieces of paper. And people would call you back, too, figuring that if you were making a phone call, it must be important!18. If you left the office, you might tell your secretary where you were going, so that they could reach you by calling the business, home, or even restaurant where you were. Restaurants had phones on long cords that they would plug into a jack near your table, so you could take a call.19. When you got phone service, you leased the telephone itself from the phone company. It was their property, and when you left a house or apartment, you left the phone there for the new owner or tenant to use. You had a choice of about three styles of phones and maybe six colors (which was extra!).20. Those old dial phones lasted forever - decades even - and rarely, if ever broke down. If you go to an antique mart today and buy a used dial phone from the 1950's, chances are, it will still work today, even plugged into your VoIP adapter or cell phone docking station. Sixty-year-old technology that was used and abused for decades, and it still works. And they made so many of them, they can be bought for a few dollars, today.
(Note: Sadly, I am no relation to Alexander Graham Bell. If you were born after 1970, you probably don't know who he is anyway, so it doesn't matter. And you probably don't remember "Ma Bell" or "The Bell System" either. Never mind. It wasn't important.)