At an old-phone show today, someone had a sign tellings callers of a pay phone to listen first before depositing money; this was to ensure the line wasn't in use.
Years ago, it was common for a small business, such as a luncheonette, gas station, barbershop, etc. to have a pay phone with an extension attached to it. The extension did not have a dial. In this way the pay phone could serve both customers and the business. If the phone rang, the business could answer it on the extension if desired.
Would anyone know more about that arrangement? Is it still in use? (I checked a lunchonette that had it and they got rid of their pay phone.)
P.S. At the hotel hosting the phone show, there was a bank of alcoves along a wall obviously once containing pay phones. All gone. The only pay phones there were on sale at the show, and they weren't cheap.
(I picked up an AE 40 and an AE Touch Tone for myself--AE did their own designs and didn't license W/E patents the way SC and ITT did.)***** Moderator's Note *****
My dad used to take me to a barbershop in South Boston when I was a kid, and the owner had an extension phone like that. It was an ordinary wall set, and the barber used to keep a calendar beside it: whenever he wanted to make a call, he would hit the calendar and then dial the call.
When I looked behind the calendar, I saw wires going into the phone: each with bare ends, and one almost touching the other. It wasn't until I had been at N.E.T. for a few years that I realized that the barber was slapping the calendar to short the ring lead to ground and draw dialtone, so he could make calls without putting a dime in the pay phone.
Bill Horne Moderator