Two Groups and Lots of Stories
This week I carted my odd collection of phones and gathered with two groups. My morning gang had me in stitches. These folks know how to take my props and have fun!
We laughed about memories of "party lines" and being tied down, waiting for important phone calls.
We browsed through old photos of phone booths and telephone poles, operators and phonebooks. Then the stories started coming!
Play and Work
The toy phones made us stop and think about kids using phones. A few could actually remember their first phone call. Alice was confused when she saw her first phone at age 9.
She had moved to New York from Puerto Rico, where they had not owned a phone. Today she still has family in Puerto Rico and many are living without phones now, due to the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
Many remembered the day when an operator was needed to put a call through.
I loved Bertha's story about being an operator. She said they often had to deal with prank calls or worse. "Men used to make rude calls from phone booths." Bertha explained how they got many of these calls, since calling the operator didn't require a coin. They weren't allowed to hang up on these men, but she cleverly spoke to them in a way that made them want to hang up on her!
She demonstrated her technique. "You must be pretty pitiful if you don't have a date tonight!"
Our talk of phone booths lead to a touching memory for Betty. She recalled a boy in her 7th grade class who spent a lot of time in a phone booth
Both his parents worked till late and he was uneasy being alone in his house after dark. She described the phone booth where he would bring a blanket and feel safe until they were off work.The way Betty spoke, I could tell she had worried about this young classmate. But she described where the booth was located and even today seemed to feel better knowing the area was in an active, safe part of town.
My afternoon group with Alzheimer's had a totally different reaction to the phone theme. Right off the bat I had an issue with a new resident who was angry about being placed at my table.
"I just want to get the Hell out of here." She snapped. I begged her to just listen to one song with me. I played The Telephone Song by the Andrew Sisters and she suddenly softened and even smiled. Music did the trick for a while, but eventually she moved on from our group... which actually helped a bit.
The most fun in the afternoon group, was making pretend calls. I grabbed the black phone and said, "Try to guess who I'm calling."I pretended to be a child calling Santa with my list. I overdid and the group called out, "Santa Claus!" right away.
Sweet Juanita even dialed the phone and pretended to chat a bit.
I wish I had taken a video of Ramona when she made a call. I prompted her a bit and whispered, "Pretend you're calling your mother to tell her you're getting married." I wasn't sure if this was asking for too much. Sometimes Ramona is awfully quiet, with little expression. But she dialed the phone slowly and her face lit up as her voice went up a notch. "Hi Mom... this is Mona! You'll never guess what! You're going to have to get on the big bird and fly out here..." She paused with the skill of a trained actress. "... because guess what? I'm getting marrrrrried!" The whole table just applauded.
What Did I Learn?
Lug Less & Share More! In these past years I've had so much fun planning these themes and filling the minutes with props and plans.
But this year, I've allowed myself to repeat themes more. I grab a file of photos and a box of already organized props and I go in without planning. It's so fun to know that I can do this without wearing myself out anymore. The little surprises and stories will come on their own and I love that!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.