A Boomer Lifestyle Blog

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Area Codes and Local Prefixes

Since I started my new little job where I answer phones and schedule appointments, I have come across so many different area codes.



We have about a kazillion people living in Houston now and most of them came to town with a cell phone whose area code originated in a city they lived in at some time in their past. During the day I see phone calls from every state but see very few that have the original Houston area codes of 713. Yesterday I had an Alaska area code.  My what climate shock those folks will be in for.  So I got to thinking about how I missed my own area code. 

Then I thought about the days of my youth when you said your phone number with a two letter prefix.  My number was OV2-3391. OV stood for Overland.  You could say your phone number was Overland 2-3391 or OV2-3391.  My Grandmother had a Jackson exchange, JA5-2396. There were no area codes used at that time.  You just picked up your big black rotary phone and dialed O (insert sound of rotor clicking up and then clicking back) and then V (insert the same soundtrack).  OV was actually 6 then 8 so my phone number became 682-3391.

I can't remember when we started using the 713 area code in dialing although the 713 area code was actually established as one of the original US area codes in 1947.  In 1983 the 713 Houston area code was split and area code 409 came into being around the outskirts of the City.  In 1996 area code 713 was split again and 281 came into being. The numbers were used up again as Houston grew so three years later in 1999, area code 832 was created.  In 2014 area code 346 was added.  Heck, I live here and I didn't even know about that one.  I probably thought these were out-of-towners.  These four area codes are supposed to service around eight million people.  What?? No wonder the roads are so crowded.

I guess the 8 Mil includes all of the little towns around the City.  Many of these towns have been allowed to keep their own name and political entity but if you understand City polities then you know big cities keep incorporating small cities as the rich move further away from the city center.  We'll have to see how long they last.

One further phone story.  When I first moved to Alexandria, Louisiana with my ex-husband (around 1971) they did not dial the first two numbers of the phone number.  So using my old phone number of 682-3391, they would have dialed 2-3391 on their big old rotary phones.  Actually, we had progressed from the black beauty to push button phones by then.

Hahaha.  This little story doesn't mean much in the big picture of life, but it has been on my mind so, lucky you, I shared. 


12 comments:

  1. When I was a kid 50 years ago, we still didn't have push button phones or even rotary dial phones in our town. We had to pick up the receiver and tell the operator who answered which phone number we wanted to call. She would then connect us. Our phone numbers were 3 digits long, followed by a letter for the party line. My family's phone number was 365-W. Our party line neighbour's phone was 365-J. Seems like the dark ages now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that interesting. I've never heard of that system. We might be hearing about all kinds of different exchanges. What fun.

      Delete
  2. I don't remember our phone number from way back when in Montana (I'm lucky if I remember the one I have today) however I still have a Montana are code. However I do remember the party lines and having to ask the operator to dial the number for you. Then when I got to be a teenager, we got a special dedicated line because my Dad was a volunteer fireman and they would call and tell him where the fire was so he could go directly to the fire rather than the firehouse. My Mom was a phone operator when she married Dad. Fun to think about those times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha. I remember my Dad placing emergency calls through the operator so his teenage daughters would get off the phone so he could call home. You can hardly get me to answer a phone now but didn't we live on them as teenagers.

      Delete
  3. Lol. We started using the area code for dialing here in eastern Canada about two years ago. Prior to that, we only used the 7 numbers as we have for decades. Houston is slightly bigger than all of the eastern portion of Canada.

    Interesting post, Barbara.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is interesting. Three of us have all shared different exchanges and procedures. And yes, Houston is ridiculously big. There has got to be a better system than everyone living cramped up in one "city". Spread the companies and you'll spread the population - I assume.

      Delete
  4. Oh did this bring back memories! Of course we are of similar ages so I lived all of these. Because living in the DC Metro area no one is actually from here. So all day long I get area codes from all over the country. If someone has the local I assume they changed it. We too have several area codes so it does get a bit confusing.
    I do recall my home phone number growing up and I don't recall much these days. TE-34693. Funny huh?
    We even had a party line for a short time. Remember those?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We didn't have a party line at the house growing up but when we got our lake house (around 1968) we did have a party line there. Hahaha. It took a while for Mother to get my younger sisters to quit answering other people's rings. I forgot all about that.

      Delete
  5. Kind of wish we would go back to the name first. I just realized that mine could be Upland 0-. I think that has more class and is easier to remember than just 870.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm just afraid we're going to have one of those long string of numbers like dialing overseas. I do good to remember my work and cell numbers as it is!

      Delete
  6. And phones used to be used so much more sparingly than they are now!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think cellphones have made life more geographically challenging for all of us. My daughter lives in North Carolina, but has a California area code. My son lives in Brooklyn but has an upstate NY area code. I live in Pennsylvania, with a NYC area code. Go figure!

    ReplyDelete