Friday, February 15, 2013

Manila Bell Telephone

Bell Telephone Manila c.1940

I'm not really sure about the time period of this ad, but I'm guessing 1940 from the hat she's wearing and the cut of his double breasted suit.  Ugh!  Double Breasted in the heat of Manila?  Even if it's made of linen (highly likely back then) it would still be unbearable in the heat and humidity.  Honestly, I don't think her outfit is any cooler wearing either.  I simply love 40's fashions (and 30's and 20's) but I am glad some things have changed over the years.  The same outfits they are wearing would have been worn in Miami... in the Summertime.

Enough of that, I'm not exactly a fashion writer.  I'm interested in this ad because it was from the late Commonwealth period of Philippine Colonialism and it's from the phone company.  Dad used to work for the phone company when it was "Ma Bell" and then later at AT&T.  Look closely at the ad and you'll see prices quoted.  A 3 minute call from Denver to Manila was $17.25, trust me, that was mucho dinero back then.  To put it succinctly it's around $137 today, adjusted for inflation.  I can buy a phone card for $10 and call my wife for 50 minutes today, rather a big improvement n'est pas?

It's important to remember that the world wasn't always as close as we have it now.  Back then $17.25 would have been too much money to spend on a simple phone call, it would have had to have been important... Really important.  Otherwise the sender would have just sent a letter.  And even if Jean was anxious to have them for her wedding in Denver I hope Jean gave them enough time.  By boat it was 7 days to San Fransisco from Manila then another 2 days by train.  If you had the money you could fly Pan Am.  The old Clipper airplanes flew weekly from Manila to San Fransisco and only took 3 days to get there.  I often wonder if we in the modern era are shortchanged, denied the slower pace of life offered back then that would allow us to actually live our lives and not race through them.


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