Offbeat: Telephones

By Bob Snell - bio | email feedback

HARDY, AR (KAIT) - Not that long ago, having a phone was a luxury. Today, it seems everyone has a phone, no matter what your age. Dave Gruger is all about phones; in fact, he has more than 200. Gruger worked for Southwestern Bell for 29 years, but it wasn't until late in his career that he started collecting telephones.

"My wife gave me my first wall hanger in 1992 or 1993," said Gruger. "A friend of mine collected them too and really got me going. Of all the phones I've got, I didn't take any of them from the job."

Dave's basement looks like a museum, following the history of the phone. He's got phones dating all the way back from the 1890's all the way up to the early cell phones.

"The old two box wall hanger phones are my favorites," said Dave. "I love that each one is unique with all the different types of wood. It seemed like back in those days, everybody was making and selling phones."

Dave's other favorite collectible phones include the stand phones. They are also called, candlestick phones, Elliot Ness phones, or Bonnie and Clyde phones. The stand phones are among the first corded portable phones.

"I love the history and the memories tied into phones," said Gruger. "Everyone looks a these and can remember a certain time or moment in their life associated with one of these phones.  It usually makes them smile."

As far as what he and his wife have spent on his collection, Gruger says he's stopped counting a long time ago. He says retirement has cut into how many more phones he'll be able to add to his collection, plus he's run out of room in the basement.

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