Maybe it’s because the color has always seemed to both cheer and comfort me. (Others feel the same. In fact, some folks who study these sorts of things believe that the “pink” referred to in the phrase “in the pink” means the rosy glow of a complexion indicative of good health.) In any case, my wedding vows were recited in a pale pink dress with dyed-to-match ballet flats, and there would absolutely be more of this sweet hue in my house if I lived alone.
As it is, my office walls and shelves are a light shade of rouge, with my daughter’s bathroom cabinets and floor a darker version. I just remembered that one of the rhinestone festooned circus costumes I designed when I was on the road was replete with dozens of tiny pink rose appliques. And in case you’re wondering, this month’s pedicure color is iridescent pink with glittery sparkles that dance whenever this girl clown wriggles her toes.
So it makes perfect sense that a pink princess came to live with us a few weeks ago.
To be more precise, we’re talking about a Princess telephone.
And, make no mistake here: Jewel (a princess name if I’ve ever heard one, and the moniker I have bestowed upon her) is the real deal.
Not a lightweight knock-off, this 702 model Princess sports a working rotary dial and is the exact rose pink shade as the telephones first introduced by Bell Systems in 1959. (More colors were added over the years, but the other initial ones were white, light beige, aqua blue and turquoise.) Three years later, the phone made its international debut at the Seattle World’s Fair, with push button dialing coming along in 1964.
Here are some other facts: getting the Princess brand out there was Bell’s first foray into widespread marketing, with the target being women (probably the reason behind those pastel colors). The campaign was wildly successful, so it also doesn’t surprise me to find out that the most popular toy phone in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘’80s was the Princess. And of course, the petite communicator has co-starred in a passel of movies, including Ann-Margret’s most-used accessory in Bye Bye Birdie!, and Mrs. Robinson’s bedroom choice in The Graduate.
By the way, Jewel is a working phone.
But to ensure that she performs exactly as Bell engineers intended—a cute ringer and light-up dial (which doubles as a night light), as well as the ability to make and receive calls—a good part of her innards had to be removed. Then, precisely and mindfully, with different components, and much like the Bionic Woman, she was put back together.
To that end, I was lucky to find Mike Brown of Oldphoneworks in Ontario, Canada. Mike seems to not only fully appreciate the design and durability of old phones as much as I do—he says that there are literally hundreds waiting for homes in his shop—but he knows how to make them work, too. (He’s a really nice guy as well, so I’m happy to give you his web site, which is www.oldphoneworks.com)
Of course, there’s also the “princess” aspect to Jewel.
As a little Baby Boomer girl, it was easy to buy into the idea that true happiness was what my lavishly illustrated fairy books told me. This meant a hot prince on a stately white steed would sweep me off my feet and immediately marry me, then deliver me to a majestic castle to live the rest of my days in bliss. (Exactly where the Mother Ship country might be or if said abode might be a bit drafty never crossed my mind.) To be honest, I didn’t understand what happily ever after really meant, except that there would absolutely be a tiara in the mix, and I’d be able to ride horses all day for the rest of my life.
I never married Prince Charming, of course, although I know that I’m one fortunate clown. Every day, I am grateful that I get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the United States (http://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/video/36-hours-in-san-luis-obispo-calif/vi-BBjhWWp). Every day, I’m especially grateful for a good marriage and healthy child. And years after receiving my journalism degree, I remain in love with the written word and continue to write.
But looking at the pink Princess on my night table makes me feel, at least for a few moments, that I can also be part of another special world.
Maybe that’s because when I’m using Jewel, or simply gazing at her, I get to pretend that a real princess’s phone would be rose pink, too. Her phone would also light up when she picked up the receiver, and when a call came, the ring would be dainty and lovely, just like mine.
Okay, there’s more than a bit of hocus-pocus to this thought process, but who can’t use a little magic these days?
How about you? Is there something from your childhood that makes you feel special, and that all is right with the world?
I would love to hear from you!