A Birthday Bell

It’s the birthday of Alexander Graham Bell, one of history’s best known inventors. And his invention of the telephone is one that’s been important to my family.

Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself. ~Alexander Graham Bell

The telephone made it possible for two teenagers in the 1950s to stay in touch through frequent calls using the newly installed telephone in my grandparents’ house to encourage a budding romance.

Then in the ’60s, the phone not only kept us in contact with family in Indiana after we moved to Florida, but it was a source of pranks between brother-in-laws, each trying to fool the other into accepting collect calls by pretending to be other family members.

In the ’70s, another couple of teenagers spent hours on the phone, but again, we found ways to turn this communication device into one for fun as my dad and I perfected our mind-reading trick in which he would call me and ask for Ms. Wizard, at which point I’d know the game was on and would amaze his friends when he would put them on the line to have me tell them what card they had randomly selected from the deck. “Yes, this is Ms. Wizard.”

As newlyweds who moved away from family and friends, in the 80s we relied on the phone to stay in touch and share news…a first house, a growing family, new jobs.

Then everything changed in the ’90s. For the first time, when answering the phone, I’d frequently hear the words, “Where are you?” No longer did answering the telephone mean I was at home. The cell phone meant we talked on the phone at the ballpark, at track meets, at the campground, most anywhere.

And I’m not sure how I’d have survived the early years of the 21st century, without cell phones available for new drivers to check in upon reaching their destinations and without the ability to text to stay in contact with college students frequently too busy for lengthy conversations.

Of all the changes in the telephone, I think Mr. Bell would be most pleased with the addition of texting and email. These improvements certainly support his interest and dedication to  communication for the deaf.


A phone in the pocket of most American adults and teens. Besides frequent calls, we now participate in group texts and share photos. A phone that’s also a camera, GPS, reader, radio, music storage device, video player, game console, computer…I think Alexander Graham Bell would approve.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Bell, and thanks for preparing for success.

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.
~Alexander Graham Bell