Blasts From The Past

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I was hit by nostalgia, struck by something Germany has that is long gone in Canada. The Yellow Pages showed up on my doorstep.

Are you old enough to remember phone books? They contained the names and numbers of everyone with a telephone. The Yellow Pages contained only business listings. Businesses who wanted more visibility would buy advertising to supplement the line with their name and phone number.  In the pre-internet days, they were a valuable tool. Everyone used them.

Nowadays if you want to know something, you just look it up online. Why would you kill a tree for a paper record? If you are one of those who doesn’t use the internet, that’s too bad, time to modernize your life.

I’m not sure why the Yellow Pages (and white page listings which include residential and business phones) is still available in this area of Germany. Tradition maybe – Germans don’t seem to adopt new things all that quickly. I’ve had the most recent edition for a couple of months – and the only time I opened the white pages was to see if I was listed (I’m not).

I did notice that in Sulzburg most listings for individuals are only four numbers – I guess in a small town everyone has the same prefix. I remember when it used to be like that in Canada, but that was a long time ago. All you had to dial was the last four digits of a telephone number. Now you must dial 10.

The Yellow Pages may have some value if you are looking for a business, but then again, why wouldn’t you look online? I just realized that I got these books last year too – and they sat on a shelf unopened. That will probably be the fate for these ones too.

Freiburg has a population of 350,000, more or less. The two phone books, Yellow and white pages are a couple of centimetres thick, together. That’s about the same size as the phone book was in Pembroke Ontario, population 15,000, when I lived there 30 years ago. My guess would be it used to be bigger.

I’m keeping these phone books on my office shelf, just in case. Some day I my need something to start a fire with. Otherwise, I can’t see myself ever using them.

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