Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest-blogger Mare Cromwell on 5 Telephone Numbers that Have Emblazoned Themselves Across Our Cultural Consciousness

I met Mare Cromwell, one of the most interesting writers I know, at the Maryland Writers Association's annual conference.* A master gardener, Cromwell is the author of an audaciously original book based on her interviews with a Cheokee Medicine Woman, a Death Row inmate, an Afghani Sufi Mystic, a Catholic, a Jew, and several praying kids: If I Gave You God's Phone Number... Searching for Spirituality in America. A finalist in ForeWord Magazine's 2003 Book of the Year Awards, it has just been reissued as an e-book, which you can find on both and smashwords (and iBook and Nook very soon). The hardcover edition is also available here. Read an excerpt, an interview with poet John Terlazzo, here.

If the idea of being able to telephone God is amazing, well, certainly, so is the telephone itself. Isn't that something to contemplate? Over to you, Mare.

5 Telephone Numbers To Remember
by Mare Cromwell

Ever since the invention of the telephone, thanks to the brilliant Alexander Graham Bell, we’ve been able to dial a number on a piece of gadgetry and hear a voice on the other end. What was considered a miracle in the 1870’s, we now take for granted. Today we even carry phones with us wherever we go – a technological umbilical cord that keeps us connected where we go.

Over the decades some telephone numbers have emblazoned themselves across our cultural consciousness. Some we can rattle off without thinking. Others made their mark and then faded away. Here’s a list of famous telephone numbers, most known for more than just dialing.

The number you hope you never have to call for police, fire or ambulance.

Tommy Tutone released this song in 1962. Apparently, Tommy Heath, the lead singer of the group, had a girlfriend with this actual number.

Beechword 4-5789
Cowritten by Marvin Gaye and two other men, this song was sung by the Marvelettes, a Motown group in the early ‘60’s.

Pennsylvania 6-5000
For those whose music memories go back further, the Glenn Miller Band composed and played this song in 1940. It is the phone number of Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City where the Glenn Miller Band played. The telephone number will still ring at the Hotel and is considered the oldest continuing phone number in the city though now you need to add the area code ’212.’

Bruce Almighty’s Number to God
In the film Bruce Almighty, God (Morgan Freeman) pages Bruce (Jim Carrey) and the pager reveals a seven digit phone number that is not one of the fictional 555 exchange numbers traditionally used by Hollywood. As soon as the movie aired, people started calling the number in their own area code and requesting ‘God.’ Serendipitously, a pastor named Bruce in North Carolina possessed the number. Those whose phones were the number experienced weeks of grief from the countless calls to God across the nation.

-- Mare Cromwell

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*So you beginning writers wondering, "how can I meet other writers?" -- Go thee now to a writers conference. Seriously, joining your local writers association and showing up at their meetings, whether small get-togethers, open mics, or a conference (name tags, keynote speaker, rubber chicken, and all), is one of the best things you do for yourself as a writer.

Read Cromwell's For the Earth blog, and her recent guest-blog post about her book for The Journey: Not About the Striving But the Opening.

-->For the complete archive of Madam Mayo's guest-blog posts, click here.
Recent guest-bloggers include Julia Sussner on explorable apps, Eva Schweitzer on Berlin, Sam Quinones on true stories, Eric D. Goodman on train stories, and Susan Coll on comic novels.