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`When I picked it up and said hello, this foot came through the line’ Austin To those of my friends who wrote and called, expressing concern over my arrest for destruction of Southwestern Bell property, I can only say that reports of my detention were much exaggerated. It is not true, as is being bruited about, that I broke into a Ma Bell warehouse and ate every Touchtone-Trimline in sight. And as for the much-repeated canard about my hoarding old coffee cans and waxed string well, I won’t even justify such mean-minded aspersions witha response. I didn’t set out in life to be an anti-telephone activist. Hating the phone company is so dclass. I wanted to stay home and read Tennyson, I really did. They pushed me into it. It would never have happened if I hadn’t been forced to call the Southwestern Bell business office. I couldn’t very well have left a phone in my old apartment and had none in the new place, could I? What about calling the fire department and all that? Look, it wasn’t even my idea to move. I mean,I’m not getting upwardly mobile or anything. I’m perfectly satisfied with a nice, cavernous downtown apartment upstairs from the insurance agency. Unfortunately Lamar Savings worked out a deal with Capital National Bank whereby the bank gets the old Lamar Savings block-square parking lot as a site for a new bank tower, and Lamar Savings buys the land across the street for a new parking lot. I just happen to live on the land across the street. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, living for a couple of months directly in the path of a migrating parking lot. At the end of the couple of months it became necessary to have another of those disagreeable conversations with the phone company. I knew having the phone moved would be the worst part of being evicted, but I had no idea how oozily offensive a disembodied voice could be. I can’t remember the name of the apparatchika to whom I talked. I probably wouldn’t put her name in the paper if I did. I might go over and kick her in the ankle, though. The preliminaries went smoothly enough. My. name is such-and-so, the new address is this-and-that, my present number is you-know, there will be two people using the phone. “All right, sir, if you will hold the line for a minute I’ll go and get the records on that.” I hold. And hold. “Mr. Ferguson? Thank you for waiting. I’ve gone ahead and placed the order on your new equipment for you. Now let me tell 20 The Texas Observer INotions I you what I’ve arranged, which is the apartment service.” “There will be two phones, private lines, Touchtone-Trimlines, one of course in the bedroom area, the other` in the kitchen-living room area. I believe in the apartments you’re moving into there is a bar, a decorator bar separating the kitchen and living room, and that one phone will be sufficient in that area. Monthly billing will be $11.90, there will be a transfer charge of $6.00. Now, is that satisfactory?” ,No, that is not satisfactory at all. Now let me tell you what I want, and you can go back and get the records on that again and place a new order on my equipment. At present my telephone equipment is as follows: one private line, a black desk telephone with a dial on the front, with numbers on the dial. In the new place, which is not an apartment but half a duplex, and which has no decorator bar separating anything from anything else, I would like one private line, a black desk telephone with a dial on the front, numbers on the dial if at all possible. My present monthly billing is $6.91. I would like my future monthly . billings to be $6.91, Have you got all that? “Yes, sir, and that equipment is available, and the billing would be $6.40 a month, plus the tax of course, but would you mind my asking why you object to the Touchtone-Trimline service?” Not at all. I’m a nostalgia nut. “I beg your pardon, sir?” I’ve always liked black desk telephones. I’ve always gotten good service out of them. I’m very satisfied with my telephone service in this regard. There are black desk telephones in all the movies I like. Nostalgia, you might say. “Well, I can certainly understand your liking our basic phone, sir, but might I ask if you are aware that all phone service is moving toward Touchtone-Trimline phones?” Yes, you may, but I am somewhat attached to ,the black desk telephone look, and I expect to be quite satisfied with it for some time to come. I would like to continue using black desk telephones as long as they are available through legal channels. Is there some difficulty in obtaining black desk telephones during this transitional period? “Oh, no sir, that equipment is still available, but would you mind my asking why, if there will be two people using the phone service, you want only one phone in the apartment? Is there a financial consideration? Are you aware of the rates for our different services?” No, I am not aware, and by now yes, I do mind your asking. Will it be much inconvenience to you to install a single phone? “No, sir, no trouble at all.” Fortunately, our respective good upbringings served us well at this point, and there followed an extremely polite conversation about arrangements for disconnecting the present phone, meeting the serviceman and like that. The best part is that I get a $5 credit for cutting my present phone line and carrying my black desk telephone to the new, sans-decorator bar duplex. I won’t feel like I’ve earned it unlessI break the cord with my bare hands. On Pomeroy This may seem exceptionally tardy, ,even for a publicatiOn that does not owe much allegiance to day-to-day deadlines, but the following remarks have just been brought to my attention, and some things are worth remembering. In late September, Patsy Swank, of the “Newsroom” program on moved to comment on the Dimick-Pomeroy affair. KERA had been doing some good, tough work on DPS surveillance, and a caller asked if the program couldn’t say something nice about the DPS. That made Swank wonder, she said, “if people really do understand why we are concerned with the whole DPS story . “I am unique in that of all the people sitting at this table I am the only one who was an adult in the Fifties. I remember how it was. The language of Mr. Dimick’s report is very reminiscent of that time. I don’t want to live again in a time like that. “We all came back from the wars, in the Forties, with new hopes and a new interest :in politics; and we talked and we argued a lot, with people who agreed with us and with people who didn’t. The arguments were spirited, complicated, sometimes angry but always stimulating. They had the virtue of making us examine our own opinions, reinforce them, occasionally change them. That kind of debate stopped in the Fifties. People discussed politics only with those who agreed with them; -waiiewoOns4s koomieufiriirarter….