Roanoke, VA

You can still obtain the time and weather in the Roanoke Valley by dialing the same phone number from decades past

Cheryl E Preston

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Dialing the time was once a big deal

Depending on your age there are phone numbers associated with hit songs you may recall like the Marvalettes Beachwood 4-5789 or Moris Day and the Time's 777-9311 . These can stick with you and perhaps as a local resident of the Roanoke Valley another phone number may sound familiar 540-3429011. This is the number we called back in the old days to find out what time it was. Today in the cell phone era, everything is at the touch of a button.

This includes the time and weather reports but once upon a time, there were no smart watches or digital clocks for the home or vehicles. There was also no internet service so if your watch ran down or your clock stopped there was only one way to find out what time it was. You had to dial numbers (540) 342-9011 on a rotary phone by placing your finger in the appropriate number hole and dialing in a circular motion. In the Roanoke Valley you connected to the source the local phone company to get your answer and this morning I recalled that number

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The phone number that brings back fond memories

Longtime residents of the Roanoke Valley may recall that when you dialed this number a female voice would say "The time is" followed by the current time of day or night. This service was provided by the local phone company that was once C&P, (Chesapeake ad Potomac) then later Bell Atlantic, and now Verizon. If you can remember this you are my age (63) or older.

My brothers and I were children of the late 1960s and no one explained to us that this was a recording. We actually thought a woman earned her living by giving out the time. As a teen, I would dial the time and pretend to be talking on the phone in order to keep my middle brother from calling his girlfriend and hogging the phone for several hours. I could find no records of when this service first began but I do recall dialing (540) 3429011 in the late 1980s or early 1990s and the number was no longer in service.

I felt as though I had lost a friend because I called that number so often in my early life for myself or others who asked. Anytime you asked the time everyone knew that phone number from memory. When I recalled it this morning I dialed out of curiosity and found out it is now working again and you can obtain both the time and local weather by dialing that familiar number.

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Long-term memory is a blessing

I appreciate the long-ago memories that come back to me so vividly these days. Various studies have concluded that long-term memory improves with age and if you are a senior over age 55 you probably already know that. Random memories from many decades ago will return with clarity although you might forget an appointment or why you walked into a room.

I'm grateful that someone in the Roanoke Valley decided to reuse (540) 3429011 for the purpose for which it was designed at least seven decades ago. Somewhere out there are baby boomers like myself who enjoy all fond memories of days gone by in the Roanoke Valley. For anyone who is interested there is a Facebook group where you can share fond remembrances of the local area.

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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA
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