Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 1004, added October 21, 2006
THE PHONOGRAPHIC CALL.
Mr. Edison’s Most Valuable Invention Put to a Practical Use
Which Will Make All Lovers Tremble.
By Homer Bassford, from Detroit Free Press, in Boston Daily Globe, May 25, 1890, p. 19.
To my mind, Mr. Edison’s most valuable invention is the phonograph. I think the gentle or otherwise reader will fully agree with me when I have finished my tale.
I have a girl—one of those dear, soul-satisfying girls who insist upon your calling three times a week. Not being overly strong minded, I have for 104 weeks—two years to a minute—yielded to her wish in this direction. My last call took place Sunday night; I am due again this evening, but for reasons that the reader will soon be aware of I will while away the hours in my own elegant bachelor quarters.
Yesterday I received from the father of my inamorata, collect, a beautiful brass-mounted phonograph. I paid the charges after having made a brief canvass among my friends—the sum was only $1.20—and then I set up the machine. I placed one of the little gelatine tubes in its place, and put my foot on the pedal. I pressed once, and a jumble of noises came from the phonograph; then I heard something that sounded like idle thrumming on a piano, followed by a distinct ring of a bell; then there was a silence. I tramped a little more, and in a moment the machine said:
“Good evening. I’m so glad to see you.” Then in a lower voice: “You are later than usual. What was the matter?”
I heard an indistinct reply and then the voice was plain again. It was a familiar tone and I seemed to have heard the words it uttered somewhere before.
“Here, this is your seat—and this one, right here by you, is mine.”
Here the talking became indistinct again. I pumped on the machine for 15 minutes without getting a clear sentence, when I heard this:
“Now, there, that is enough—that last one was square in the mouth. No, sir, not another one. Sh—someone is coming.”
There was a sound as if of moving chairs on a carpet, after which a dead silence prevailed. Then there was more muffled talking, which finally became audible:
“And you love me just as much as you ever did? Honest, now.”
There was something that sounded like the breaking of a peanut shell, when the voice continued, almost inaudibly:
“Dear, but you are selfish. Look where your hand is—what if some one should come in?”
There were more inaudible sentences and more breaking of peanut shells, followed by an uninteresting disconnected conversation that came quite clearly. Then I heard something like a clock striking. I counted the strokes; there were 10 of them.
“That isn’t late,” came the voice. “You didn’t come till nearly 9.”
There was a slight noise, followed by more breaking of peanut shells, mixed with half-smothered “dont’s.” I pumped another half-hour without hearing much but the breaking of the peanut shells—although I am not sure that it was that—and an occasional “don’t,” “love,” “quit,” “tomorrow night?” and “deary.” Then the voice became clear again.
“Don’t hold my hands so—do you see where they are?”—the breaking of two peanut shells interrupted the voice—“and tomorrow night? No? Well, the next will do. Now, don’t forget. Good night, good night.”
I thought that was all, but before I had removed my foot from the tramping gear the machine called out:
“Say, young man,” it continued. “I filled this machine up as best I could from recollections of my courting days, and I hope you’ll get some consolation of it two nights in the week. I say two nights, because I’m going to draw the line at one call at my house for every seven days. When you get lonesome and want to go calling, just pull the machine down and you’ve got a pleasant evening before you, and you don’t have to fix up your toilet either. The gelatine tube is good for 5000 calls, and if you and my daughter are not married by the time they’re gone I’ll furnish you with another one. If you feel at any time as if you’d like to have a lover’s quarrel the other tube inclosed in the package will give it to you.