Do you know what and where this is?

Do you know what and where this is?

1/7/22 David Kramer at the Brighton Memorial Library pay phone. [Photo: Courtesy of the BML staff]

Today at the Brighton Memorial Library I wanted a drink of water.  The water fountain is in the back alcove where I discovered another kind of anachronism (water fountains seem on their way out): a pay telephone including a phone book from 2019 – 2020.

The phonebook itself is more a resource than you might expect. 2020 was the last year Frontier’s phone books included personal numbers, ones increasingly hard to find on the internet. But on this phone book, I could find listed my father, Eugene Kramer. As Eugene passed in 2019, this would be his last listing .

Eugene Kramer’s listing in the 2019 – 2020 Frontier phone book. See Donating to the beloved Brighton Memorial Library

The BML keeps all recent phone books, but the books from 2020 – present contain only business and no personal numbers.

1/7/22 Recent Frontier phone books at the Information Center [Photo: David Kramer]

To learn more, I turned to Reference Librarian Matthew Bashore:

Talker: How long do you think the pay phone been in the library. Was the phone there when I was a page in the early 80s? The staff thinks the phone was moved to its present location in 1999.

Matt: The phone was definitely placed there in 1999. It could have existed in the building (or elsewhere) prior to that and been moved. But I really think because of its style and graphics it is from 1999. I got here in 2000 and it was here. Jude Hyzen who is the only regular employee here longer than me, says she also thinks it dates to 1999 (the last expansion of the library).

1/7/22 Plaque dedicated for the 1999 expansion [Photo: Courtesy of the BML staff]

Talker: How often is the phone used and by whom? The staff says the phone is dialed infrequently but still used. Apparently, the library regulars know about the old fashioned device. The staff said people occasionally come to the library looking for a phone and are pointed in its direction. Hope they have a quarter! I was told the phone was more used when the library had a bus stop. Apparently, people needed to make calls, maybe for a ride home.

Matt: We have no stats on how much it is used. I rarely see anyone on it anymore. In fact, I can’t recall anyone since the pandemic. Prior to that, maybe once a week.

Talker: When are the coins taken away? No one on the staff recalls the coins ever being removed, but I imagine the phone would be filled up if the nickels, dime and quarters were never taken out. We could do a kind of archeological analysis of the coins to give a sense of the age and usage of the phone.

1/7/22 David Kramer calling his cell phone on the pay phone. [Photos: Courtesy of the BML staff]

Matt: The coins are removed. I have seen the Frontier employee pass by the desk. You would need to contact Frontier to find out how frequently.

Talker: Anything else of interest.

Matt: I believe it costs 50 cents to make call now.


On 1/7, Town of Brighton Historian Mary Jo Lanphear writes:

Until a couple of years ago there was a pay phone across from my door
on the lower level of the town hall.  In the pre-cell phone era, it
was a popular stopping place for salesmen who also took advantage of
the men’s room down the hall.

1/8/21 David Kramer with what’s left of the pay phone. [Photo: Courtesy of the BML staff] See Honoring Mary Jo Lanphear, Brighton Town Historian since 1986

The wooden backing is still attached to the wall. 


I discovered two pay phones at Twelve Corners in Brighton on the Corner of Elmwood and Winton

Twelve Corners in Brighton on the Corner of Elmwood and Winton. Photo: David Kramer, 5/17/22



Enjoy actual print at the Brighton Memorial Library’s Reading Room

The Friends of the Brighton Memorial Library celebrate golden anniversary

A ribbon cutting and the Pages of the Brighton Memorial Library

Remembering Armistice Day, 11/11/1918, at the Brighton Memorial Library and Buckland Park

John le Carré (19 October 1931 – 12 December 2020) at the Brighton Memorial Library

Donating to the beloved Brighton Memorial Library

Read about Sutton Griggs at the Brighton Memorial Library

Do the troubled spirits of John and Irene walk the Brickyard Trail? Probably not. At the Brighton Library, Matt Bashore unveils the twists and turns of the crime and punishment

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

1 Comment

  1. Allison

    This article is hilarious. What an interesting find!


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