by Kevin Walsh

I was staggering around in SoHo a few summers ago in the dead dog 85-degree, 75 dewpoint heat down Prince Street. I had just gotten out of a job interview (like most of them it was copy editing stuff I could have done in my sleep for a scholastic book publisher; I never heard back) in my dress jacket, good pants and interview/wedding/funeral shoes. Needless to say I bring my camera with me in a backpack everywhere I go (this was before I had an IPhone) and I got enough shots to squeeze out a Prince Street page.

Looking over that batch again I was taken by these mini phone booths. I wonder if Verizon services phone booths anymore. Many are being supplanted by those Space Odyssey LinkNYC W-Fi slabs.


At this point I forget what this ad campaign even was. I know one thing. Sensibilities have changed to such a degree that advertising agencies probably couldn’t do a campaign like this anymore. If anyone remembers the client, fill me in in Comments.

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Kat October 5, 2018 - 11:13 pm Reply
S. Saltzman October 6, 2018 - 6:53 am

Verizon sold their pay phones to private companies over five years ago. Most of the street phones went to Telebeam. Most payphones inside buildings were abandoned in place when the building owners refused to pay the exhorbitant fees required if the phone did not earn a minimum monthly amount. My sister worked at NYPL 42nd Street and was told the company wanted $700 a month to maintain each payphone. Last time I was there the non working phones were still in the booths.

Edward October 6, 2018 - 11:43 am

The ads were for the Lung Cancer Alliance’s “Nobody Deserves to Die” campaign:

Bill Tweeddale October 8, 2018 - 12:16 pm

During summers off from college in the 60’s, I worked at Western Union typing telegrams that people called in from pay phones. I would figure the cost based on destination and wording. They paid by putting coins into the slots. A quarter made a “dong”, a dime a “ding ding”, and a nickel a “ding”. It was easy to count up when they had their coins sorted, but once in a while a wiseguy would mix them up and I’d hear “ding ding, dong, dong, ding, ding ding, dong, ding…”. If I lost track of the count, I’d pull a lever which returned ALL the coins, and I’d tell them to sort them and start again. They’d get the idea after one or two repeats. I haven’t seen a phone booth in a long time.


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