Sir, you have a telephone call.

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Last week we had lunch at Canter’s. We don’t eat out frequently, so it was a treat. We were seated in a large booth at the back. I set my bag on the ledge between our booth and the next one, where I noticed a phone jack.

My whole life, I’ve imagined life in Hollywood. In my mind, every movie premier is like the one in the beginning of Singin’ In The Rain. I’ve been to a few, and they weren’t like that at all, but somehow I still imagine that they might be.

Between movies set here and movies set in New York, where I grew up, it was drilled into me that important people get telephone calls wherever they are, restaurants included. I have a very clear image in my head of the maitre d’ bringing a rotary dial phone to the table on a tray. “Sir, you have a telephone call.”

I guess cell phones killed that sort of service.

(More photos behind the cut.)

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4 Replies to “Sir, you have a telephone call.”

  1. Up until just a few years ago, the Omelette Parlor in Santa Monica had a phone at each booth along one wall providing free local calls.
    When I first moved to LA in 1994 I’d always have lunch there and make calls in my search for an apartment, job, or whatever.

  2. Before the Cabazon dinosaurs were surrounded by amazingly ugly fast-food restaurants, the Wheel Inn used to be a classic American truck stop, complete with idling diesels in the vast parking lot, velvet portraits of Elvis for sale and creamers in the shape of a cow.I remember seeing truck-driver looking guys with paperwork spread out over their booth in the restaurant and a “Princess” phone tucked between their shoulder and ear. Every booth had a phone on the wall. The trucks moved down the road a few miles (to the casino), but the phones remained, for a while.

  3. When I first came to LA in 1999, Canter’s actually had a phone connected at most of the booths. I remember being pretty bummed when they took them all out…

  4. Many years ago (late 50s), my Father came here on a trip and was treated to dinner at Trader Vic’s. Wanting to impress him, his host for the trip asked the waiter to bring a telephone. The waiter brought a white one, at which point the host said, “No, that won’t do. We want a black one.” And damned if that isn’t what the waiter brought back!

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