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The Hall Closet aka The Phone Booth

I know what you’re thinking. The photo accompanying this column is of — well — a sampling of some ugly wallpaper from the 1960s.

Patriotic wallpaper was in vogue during the ’60s as evidenced by this pattern that my mother slapped on the walls of a large closet located in the hallway of our family home in Woodsdale. My mom had a thing for wallpaper as each room in the house saw her handiwork at some point or another.

I can’t count the number of wallpaper patterns that adorned the kitchen. There, too, the walls screamed with patriotic scenes, wild colored flowers and a host of other yellow patterns better left in the past.

As for the hall closet, it was sort of a sacred place when we were teenagers. This coat closet was big and deep. There was a bar for hanging coats on hangers and lots of brass coat hooks that held every size of apparel from baby snowsuits to hockey sweaters.

This was no ordinary closet. The door had a full length mirror on the outside. A metal hat holder was on the inside of the door where Pop kept his various fedoras, caps and golf hats.

But the neatest thing about the closet was the phone. Just outside the closet door hung a rotary wall phone with a long, curly cord.

The closet served as a makeshift phone booth as we whispered to various friends in the privacy behind that mirrored door. An oversized basket of mittens, scarves, hats and other apparel served as a comfy seat during those clandestine phone conversations.

Eventually, the original phone cord was replaced with a longer version since we were stretching the smaller cord too far into the closet.

At some point, a push button phone appeared outside the closet and no more party line. That was a pretty big step up in technology at the time.

The closet also had a large window that swung open, offering a bit of fresh air on a hot summer evening.

Back to the wallpaper that served us well. It wasn’t unusual to find phone numbers and names scratched in pen among the wallpaper of Liberty Bells, eagles and flags. It was a fun place to doodle while talking on the phone or to jot down a phone number.

I snapped a picture of the wallpaper before the house was sold to an investor who has since refurbished and modernized the home.

This past year I had the opportunity to visit that childhood home on Hamilton Avenue. I was happy to see that the hall closet was still there minus the wallpaper and wall phone. The house has been transformed into a modern and beautiful home, waiting for another family to make memories with or without wallpaper.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.


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