Phone Booths

Today, let’s talk about phone booths. If you are too young to know what they are, borrow your parents’ book of ancient American history. There used to be a wonderful activity we would engage in as kids. It taught us fellowship, teamwork, and tolerance of body odor. It was called “seeing how many people you can cram into a phone booth.”

This critical American pastime had its origins in South Africa, dating back to the mid-1950s, when students were claimed to have fit 25 people in a space approximately three feet square and eight feet high. British students tried, but couldn’t outdo the South Africans.

American and Canadian college students had a go at it, and the craze spread across the continent, with increasingly elaborate “rules” in phone booth stuffing. Lots of variations were tried, like stuffing people in a car or in a booth underwater. One of the shorter-lived fads of the 1950s and ’60s, phone booth stuffing faded by 1970. But its basic premise was good. It is always a good thing when we can bring people together.

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