Prairie Grove's pay phone gets national attention | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Prairie Grove's pay phone gets national attention

Posted By on Sat, Jul 5, 2014 at 11:54 AM

click to enlarge UNDER REPAIR: Prairie Grove's phone booth. - KNWA
  • KNWA
  • UNDER REPAIR: Prairie Grove's phone booth.
The Prairie Grove Telephone Company's decision to revive its last pay phone booth — a victim of an errant SUV — has drawn the attention of the New York Times' traveling feature writer Dan Barry

It's more than a phone booth story, but a tale of a family company, a small town and changing culture. The booth may collect $5 in a good year, but its depicted here a fond relic of a phone company past with a rapidly changing and wholly certain future. (A Facebook campaign led to the booth's salvation, BTW.) It concludes:

The employee most responsible for the booth’s resuscitation is Patrick Smith, 50 years old and nearly as large as his inanimate patient, whose injuries include broken glass panes, bent supports and a battered foundation.

Mr. Smith grew up in nearby Morrow, and remembers passing the booth whenever his family trucked their cattle to the sales barn in Fayetteville. The sight of Superman’s see-through closet — an arrangement that made sense only if you didn’t try to make sense of it — filled the boy with wonder.

Later, as a teenager, he often stepped into the phone booth after a movie night at the 112 Drive In theater in Fayetteville, to call as the family curfew was descending.

With the close of the phone booth’s door, the teenager would glow like a firefly. A mother’s reassuring voice would emanate from the receiver. And the caller from Prairie Grove would promise, promise, to be home soon.

PS: This is funny. Check what @voxdotcom noticed on how the dead-tree NY Times explained this story.

click to enlarge screen_shot_2014-07-05_at_4.20.04_pm.png

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