(Black Press File)

Rimbey’s remaining payphone to make final call in April

I nearly wept.

My publisher Leah, stood beside me obviously shook. We read the news together.

The last telephone booth in Rimbey is being removed.

The booth, currently at Happy Valley Restaurant will remain until April 25. It’s being removed due to a decline in usage. MacTel Canada Inc informed the Town of Rimbey earlier this month.

Surprisingly no vigil is organized but if working in Rimbey has taught me anything, it’s that they can throw a gathering together pretty quickly. Whatever the cause.

First, I was unaware that telephone booths were still a thing. Second, how many of you were still using that thing? Why?

It’s hard to make TikTok videos and comment on websites on a payphone and advances in communications and technology is a thing in our society. People enjoy the ‘interaction’ a cell phone gives them. They can take a selfie, leave both solicited and unsolicited comments,

Over the last few years, St. Albert, Okotoks have said goodbye to their final payphone. Despite the recent removal of booths, there are more than 6,800 payphones in operation across Alberta. and Telus says they currently have about 700 payphones left in Alberta.

For Rimbey residents though, officially gone are the days of the chained-up, floppy phone book. The carefully etched phone numbers and rude sayings on the side of the phone. No more wondering about what illness you’re going to contract from the receiver (that is somehow always warm.)

No longer will you need to keep a quarter in your shoe.

According to Wikipedia, the world’s first telephone box called “Fernsprechkiosk,” was opened on Jan. 12, 1881 at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. To use it you had to buy paper tickets called Telefonbillet which allowed for a few minutes of talking time. In 1899, it was replaced by a coin-operated telephone. The first telephone booth in London, England, was installed near the Staple Inn in High Holborn in May 1903.

William Gray is credited with inventing the coin payphone in the United States in 1889, and George A. Long was its developer. The early telephone booths were manufactured from wood with ornate trim and design.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, the museum in town might have a phone you can visit but otherwise, you have a few days left to get your last visit in with the booth, take a photo and post it to Instagram.