Saturday, July 7, 2007

Telephone exchange names

[Hello, Boing Boing readers!]

Hearing Mike Hammer's telephone number reminds me:

If you'd like to replace the dull first two digits of your telephone number with an authentic and evocative exchange name, Robert Crowe at the Telephone EXchange Name Project has reproduced a 1955 Bell Telephone Company list of approved names. Says the TENP: "If you do not have a historically accurate exchange name to use for your current telephone number, you should choose one from this list." I'm set to go with FIrestone 5-, authentic, evocative, also alliterative.

I still remember MUrray Hill 7-7500 from the commercials for Gimbels Custom Reupholstery that ran on New York's WPIX-TV on weekday mornings. Cartoons and the Little Rascals at 7:00 a.m., and they were trying to get people to think about reupholstering furniture?

Recommended Exchange Names (The Telephone EXchange Name Project)
Gimbels (Wikipedia)

Related posts
MOre TElephone EXchange NAme NOstalgia
All "dowdy world" posts (via Pinboard)
[The original link to the EXchange Name Project is defunct.]

comments: 9

Elaine Fine said...

What about PEnnsylvania 6-5000? PEnnsylvania, along with my childhood exchange DEcatur, is not on the list.

Michael Leddy said...

The absence of PEnnsylvania is puzzling. Maybe it was kept off the list to avoid possible confusion? (PA v. PE?)

Anonymous said...

Ah, dowdy phone numbers!

Our local exchange was TEmple 8 (Lockport, Ilinois), the one in nearby Lemont was CLearwater 7, and if memory serves the Joliet exchanges were all SAcramento x (72x). Berwyn, Illinois, used GUnderson, which was a legacy from pre-direct-dial days and the name of a local thoroughfare.

For years after the little piece of paper inside telephone dials (!) stopped showing letters for exchanges, Boushelle, a carpet company in Chicago, continued to use its dowdy number as its jingle: HUdson three two seven hundred - G G G F E D E C - I have provided the notes in the key of C for all non-Chicagolanders. All Chicagolanders of a certain age can sing this jingle without the notes.

Michael Leddy said...

Norman, thanks for the memories. My childhood exhange in Brooklyn was GEdney. ULster was nearby. In suburban NJ, I remember seeing WHitney painted on a candy store window and realizing that that was (or would have been) our exchange. I'd known only "94."

Anonymous said...

I rember GEdney and Ulster from Brooklyn as well. I remmeber the number the phone number that we had in Brooklyn but can't remember any of the dozen or so that I've had since then...

Anonymous said...

A company in Cleveland that installs aluminum siding is known not by its name, but by the telephone number "GArfield 1-2323," which has been used in a jingle on radio and TV for five decades.

The company, still in business today, can be found on the Internet at the website address

Michael Leddy said...

Dennis, thanks for reminiscing. Childhood phone numbers do seem to stick. I remember mine, but none of the phone numbers from my student days. Michael, thanks for the exchange-name story. There's a page at the company site with an updated recording of the jingle.

Ray said...

I posted about this very thing today and brought back many memories for many people.

You're the only other person on the Internet, though, who remembers Gimbels Custom Reupholstery in that context. Not too many years later, ads for Fred the Furrier and the Ritz Thrift Shop would take their place among the daily dose of cartoons and Stooges shorts. Who did they think was watching?

Anyway, thanks for sharing the memories, however many months ago.

-Ray, whose blogger profile goes to a non-blogger blog but not the non-blogger blog above....

Michael Leddy said...

Ray, I liked reading about your discovery. Thanks for sharing it here.

I just found a Gimbels commercial with an exchange name in this compilation of department store commercials. JUdson, not MUrray Hill, alas.