Telephone Exchanges by
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Rotary telephone dial, 1940. Photo credit: Kbrose. Creative commons license.

Rotary telephone dial, 1940. Photo credit: Kbrose. Creative commons license.

I miss telephone exchange names: UNiversity, BUtterfield, KLondike, WOodward, YUkon. They made telephone numbers so easy to remember. My best friend’s number was LIncoln 6-4822, which I recall effortlessly today, 48 years after he moved out. Those numbers had music to them. Giving someone your phone number was like reciting poetry. Now it’s all a mash of area codes and numbers, which you don’t have to remember anyway, because you just hit speed dial or find them in your contact list. It’s all commerce and no poetry.

UNiversity, BUtterfield, KLondike, WOodward, YUkon—those old phone numbers were so easy to remember.


Profile photo of John Zussman John Zussman
John Unger Zussman is a creative and corporate storyteller and a co-founder of Retrospect.

Characterizations: been there, right on!


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    UNiversity 3-1112 (Detriot), LIncoln5-5732 (HW). Case closed.

  2. Suzy says:

    I agree. PLymouth 1-0892 was my number growing up, and I still dial my aunt at GIbraltar 7-8640. (Of course the verb “dial” is an anachronism, because we don’t dial any more, we push buttons.)

  3. rosie says:

    Remember that you had to stand up to talk often, because telephones were often set up in odd corners on a table with room for the phone books? Brings back a smile to read this. Enjoyed.

  4. Marian says:

    Ah, yes, CEnter 9-2609 (northern New Jersey). How amazing we all remember. The people across the street had CEnter 9-2906, which made for an interesting time, receiving some of their phone calls. Of course, until I was about 5 or 6, we had a party line with another set of neighbors, and I remember my mother saying, “Mrs. Comisky is still talking!”

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