Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Temple Tuesday: Temple on the Telly

Today’s post is entirely thanks to Shirley Expert Supreme, Rita Dubas. Once again, her boundless generosity has provided me with amazing content to entertain my readers. The first photo shows Shirley with a white Automatic Electric Monophone Model 34 Telephone in her bedroom. Known as the “Shirley Temple phone,” the AE34 models that were bought by the general public came in black, not white.

From the Telephone Museum website:

On This Day In Telephone History August 23RD 1938 Shirley Temple Receives The 100,000TH AE Model 34. The Associated Telephone Company, Ltd. Installed the 100,000TH AE 34 at the home of the most famous little girl in all the world, Shirley Temple. Henceforth, the Automatic Electric Monophone Model 34 Became known as “The Shirley Temple Phone.”

Rita’s original photo above is dated August 15, 1938 (about a week before the phone museum page said it was presented to her). Here’s a shot of the black phone made of Bakelite that was available to the public:

Moving forward to 1959, Shirley made Telephone History once again by being the millionth General Telephone Company of California customer. The company was headquartered in Santa Monica and presented Shirley with this phone in a special ceremony. I was able to see this memento in 2018 when Shirley’s family loaned it to the Santa Monica History Museum and put it on display:

Shirley’s son Charlie mentioned that there was an inscription on the bottom of the phone; unfortunately with the way it was displayed I couldn’t get a clear enough shot to be able to read the engraving.

Want to see a photo of Shirley using that phone? Thanks to Rita, you can! Shot by Baron Wolman in 1976, Shirley was still using the 1959 phone some seventeen years later. And why not? Those old phones were built to last!

She also supplied this article from the August 23, 1982 GTE (General Telephone Company) California News. Well, maybe this particular phone wasn’t built to last, but at least it seemed to have a VERY good warranty! Try not to gag when you read the extremely flowery language of this article.

See more Shirley Temple Black photos at my main website.


Chuck said...

Those phones were built to last - I've read that the designed operational life for Western Electric's phones from that era was 50 years. Every component was designed to be durable, reparable and replaceable, which made sense because in most places the local phone company owned the actual phone instrument in your house.

My grandmother had a GTE phone in her house that was installed around 1960 and was only replaced in around 2000 not because it stopped working but because she needed a jack for her hearing assistance system. The separate ringer, which was original to the house when it was built in 1939, is still there and still working!

Daveland said...

They sure don't make 'em like they used to!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Chuck, it's interesting that you made the comment about these phones being built to last 50 years . . . you are so right! I just tossed my dad's (Lou's) 1968 Western Electric phone, and it was still working (never ever needed repairs). Dave - you are so right, too!

Fun post, Dave!