1937 - Bill's Birth Year

Here are some fun facts about Bill's birth year.
Read this and marvel how drastically things have changed in 80+ years.

The average annual income was $1,788.
The average cost of a new car was $760.00.
The average cost of a new house was $4,100.00.
A loaf of bread cost 9¢.
A gallon of milk cost 50¢.
A pound of hamburger cost 12¢.
A gallon of gasoline cost 10¢.
Dow Jones Average was 166. (That is not a typo!)
The average cost to rent a house was $26.00 per month.
Life expectancy was 59.7 years.
The Lincoln Tunnel opened in New York City.
The coronation of King George VI took place at Westminster Abbey.
The Golden Gate Bridge opened.
The Hindenburg disaster happened on May 6, 1937.
The first blood bank opened in Chicago.
Carl Orff's Carmina Burana premiered in Frankfurt, Germany.
Amelia Earhart disappeared during her attempt to fly around the world.
Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs opened and became a smash hit.
Arturo Toscanini conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra on the radio for the first time.
Ronald Reagan made his film acting debut.
U.S. President was Franklin D. Roosevelt.
General Secretary of the Central Committee of Russia/Soviet Union was Joseph Stalin.
German Chancellor was Adolf Hitler.
Prime Minister of Italy was Benito Mussolini.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was Neville Chamberlain.

The following people were born in 1937 (listed in order of their birth dates): Margaret O'Brien, Vanessa Redgrave, Suzanne Pleshette, Philip Glass, Tom Smothers, Roberta Flack, Warren Beatty, Colin Powell, Merle Haggard, Jack Nicholson, Frankie Valli, George Carlin, Madeleine Albright, Morgan Freeman, Waylon Jennings, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ned Beatty, Bill Cosby, Dustin Hoffman, Johnnie Cochran, Jane Fonda.

The following people died in 1937 (listed in order of their death dates): Charles-Marie Widor, Austen Chamberlain, John D. Rockefeller, Jean Harlow, George Gershwin, Guglielmo Marconi, Louis Vierne, Maurice Ravel.

While telephones were a part of many households in our youth, some had "crank" phones which hung on the wall. The crank was used to contact the "operator" who would ask which number you wished to call.

Crank Phone

Because we lived "in town" we had a more modern phone without the crank.


The method used to call another party was to pick up the "receiver" from the cradle (there was only one phone in the house) and the "operator" would say, "Number, please?" Our town was small and it was not uncommon for me to say, "Please call my Daddy." Also, most homes in my town had what was known as "party" lines - several households would "share" the same line. It was impossible to make a call while another person was using the line and you could hear the conversation taking place on the "party" line if you happened to pick up the phone while it was in use. It was not uncommon to ask another "party" if they would please hang up so that you could make a call.

I also remember phone numbers: my Grandparents' telephone number was 48 (there was no area code), my Dad's work number was 361. The local funeral home's number was 1.

To make a "long distance" call, you would tell the operator the city, state, and number you wished to call. If it was a "person-to-person" call (which was much more expensive) you would also state the name of the party you wished to contact. Generally, the operator would say that she (it was always a woman) would call you back when the connection was made - anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour.

Dial Phone

When we got "new and improved" phones with a rotary dial, the telephone company published instructions as to how this new-fangled device was to be used. The following is directly from the phone book of 1953 (when I was almost 16 years of age.)

1953 Telephone Directory

How to Operate the Automatic Telephone

Good telephone service is as dependent on proper telephone usage as it is on proper telephone equipment. Therefore we kindly request that you read the instructions covering proper telephone usage in the following paragraphs.

The "DIAL" on your telephone contains ten circular openings large enough to admit the tip of the index finger. Back of the dial is the "NUMBER PLATE" containing numbers 1 to 0 inclusive. The numbers, or a combination of them, make up the various numbers as they appear in the Telephone Directory.

"THE DIAL TONE" is a humming sound indicating that the line is clear and that the Central Office equipment is ready to receive the number to be called.

The "RINGING SIGNAL" is an intermittent purring sound indicating that the telephone of the number called is being rung.

The "BUSY SIGNAL" is a rapid interrupted buzzing sound indicating that the line called is busy.
Consult the telephone directory and obtain the telephone number of the party with whom you desire to communicate.

How To Use The Dial Telephone

Remove the receiver and when you hear the dial tone keep the receiver off the hook and proceed as follows:

Place the tip of the index finger of either hand firmly in the opening in the "DIAL" over the first digit of the number you are calling.

Then rotate the "DIAL" clockwise until your finger strikes the "FINGER STOP."

Don't fail to pull the dial clear around to the finger stop for each figure of the number you are calling.
Remove your finger and without touching the dial allow to return to its normal position.

Perform the same operation with each of the other digits in the number you are calling.

If your finger slips, or you make a mistake in dialing, hang up the receiver at once, wait a few seconds, and dial again. Before making a second call, always hang up the receiver for a few seconds in order to clear the previous connection.

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