The other day I bought a cheap new digital watch at Target and had to set the correct time. So what did I do?
I did what I, and generations of fellow Californians, had done forever.
I dialed POPCORN.
Huh? What is that, you ask. It was a number you dialed...POPCORN...or 767-2676...to get the EXACT time according to the atomic clock. It was a lifesaver after blackouts or when you had to make sure the microwave was keeping good time.
The cool thing about the number, especially when you were a kid, was that you didn't really HAVE to dial POPCORN. The service worked if you dialed 767 and any four numbers. You didn't even have to dial a prefix. It worked from wherever you called.
And who could forget the lady's voice who told you the time. She sounded like June Cleaver and it was almost like listening to a live person since she always said good morning, good afternoon, or good evening to you. She had more manners in that single recording than today's society has in a week.
Joanne Daniels was the woman whose voice was heard for almost the past three decades of the service (which AT&T had offered since the 1920s!). It sounded so fluid because it WAS...she had to record EVERY SINGLE possibility. Today, voice menus sound so stiff because the voice actor just has their voice spliced a thousand different ways in order to make a complete sentence. At the end of giving you the time, she would say "Please make a note of it."
But to my recent dismay, the familiar voice of the "Time Lady" was no longer heard. I found that it was silenced forever last September. A sign of the times. AT&T claimed it just wasn't a needed service anymore. (Since it's demise, 300,000 new telephone numbers will be made available...cha-ching.)
So my watch still doesn't have the exact time on it. And it will make me feel a little empty, in a nostalgic way, every time the power goes out or the clock in the car needs resetting.
Because the Time Lady is no more.
Maybe her voice is in a warehouse somewhere along with cheap gas, metal jungle gyms, phone booths, lunch pails, and rotary phones.
It makes me kind of sad. It makes me feel old.
Please make a note of it.