Your fingers no longer walk in the ‘Yellow Pages’

The latest edition of the Yellow Page arrived last week.

It is not a typo. Compared to the yellow pages of my youth, what was left on my doorstep looked more like a simple sheet of paper.

The “real yellow pages” also known as the “real yellow pages of AT&T” were so thin that if there had been a slight breeze last Wednesday, whoever delivered it would have had to weight it down with a brick to. prevent it from flying away. We’re a long way from the early 1970s, when delivery people threw the Yellow Pages on your doorstep, it looked like they had thrown a brick.

There was a time when you looked forward to receiving the phone book. In many homes it was almost as revered as the Bible and was referenced with a significantly higher frequency.

Not only did it provide numbers to households and businesses, it saved you from being nickel and dying by calling directory assistance.

Before the arrival of the Yellow Pages and single line service, phone companies never had the audacity to charge you for providing you with a phone number. After all, the more you dial – especially if you’re out of town to remote places like Stockton or Modesto – the more they might slap you with toll charges.

This can be a difficult concept for anyone under the age of 40 to understand because you can call New York from Manteca on almost any cell phone plan and talk for 24 hours straight without incurring any additional charges, but calling long distance in 1970 was like filling up a gas tank. As long as the conversation flowed, the counter was running. An hour-long call can cost you a day’s pay.

You couldn’t just google your phone for a number and then hit a “call” button to join your group. If you didn’t have a number for a person or business you wanted to call in a remote town that wasn’t listed in the associated yellow pages phone book, you had to call the phone company for help. You received three directory assistance calls a month before they started ringing you. And if you wanted to do without the hassle of writing down the number they gave you so you could call them, the operator would dial it for you – for a fee.

That’s why the Yellow Pages book was almost as good as gold.

The book was almost always kept with the telephone. If for some reason someone grabbed the phone book and didn’t hand it over, it was hell to pay. Unless the person who wanted to call someone knew the number they needed from the phone book. It was the original phone app, so to speak.

Back in the days when people had to walk 10 miles one way to get to school in blinding snowstorms, you actually had to memorize phone numbers.

In fact, you memorized them so well 50 years later that you still remember them. It’s a bit ironic considering that now if you ask most people for the phone number of someone they call frequently, they have no idea what that is forcing them to tap into the phone book from their smartphone.

The phone book, much to your parents’ dismay, has often become the most tattered book in the house. Since it was – and still is – printed on higher grade paper than toilet tissue, it tears easily.

The phone book also had other practical uses, especially at family gatherings such as Thanksgiving. If there was no room at the children’s table and a small child had to sit at the large table, a few phone books stacked on top of each other served de facto as a booster chair. Chances are that booster seat sales have increased over the years in proportion to the decrease in the size of phone books.

The yellow pages are now rarely married to the white pages which contain lists of home phone customers. This is mainly because fewer and fewer households have landlines. There is a bit of fairness in this, given that phone companies are so arrogant in their monopoly world that they actually charge you a recurring monthly fee for not listing your landline number in directories that are earn them large sums of money from advertising in the yellow pages.

You would think that since just over 40 percent of households still have landlines, phone companies would stop charging their customers for a service they don’t want – a phone number listed in a list. published directory.

AT&T was charging 28 cents a month for not providing you with the service you didn’t want. Now it’s $ 1.75 a month if you don’t want your household’s phone number listed in a phone book. Frontier – which provides services to Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon – charges $ 2.50 per month or $ 30 per year so that your name, address and phone number are not left on strangers’ doorstep with full page yellow page ads of lawyers in case they get caught for identity theft and / or break and enter.

This brings up another interesting point about the yellow pages. There was a time when it was illegal for lawyers to advertise. Once it became legal to do so, literary lawyers flooded the yellow pages with advertisements that often ran entire pages. While volume has declined with actual telephone directories, the lawyer category is still the most important for yellow page advertising.

A disproportionate share of these ads focus on injury claims. Thirty years ago, such a claim could have included the attempt to lift the three-volume San Francisco yellow pages directory. Today, that can involve slipping on a phone book left at your doorstep.

Years ago, the volume of phone books distributed was so huge that long before recycling became fashionable, cities struggled to collect old phone books when new ones were distributed not so much for recycling. only to avoid a massive overload of waste collection.

Today there are no such worries.

Most of us pick up the yellow pages on our doorstep and walk straight to the blue recycling cart and unceremoniously drop the phone book there.

It has been a real disgrace for a book that was once central to our daily lives.

This column is the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 209.249.3519.

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Marvin M. Moreno

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