‘How do I dial on this?’: New pay phone in Lawrence stumping youngsters

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — With public pay phones disappearing all across the national landscape, it’s not often you hear people making a stir about a newly installed pay phone.

“The response online has been startling,” laughed Brad Allen, executive director at the Lawrence Downtown Library.

While many have jokingly asked when the library will next set up a telegraph station, Allen said there’s still a need for phones in public places.

Allen also believes it can be shortsighted to assume everyone has easy access to a personal smart phone.

“There’s a lot of different reasons why you might need a pay phone,” Allen said. “The same reason you might need a printer or a fax machine. Your cell phone might be on the fritz or out of minutes.”

Believe it or not, Allen said the new pay phone at the library is the only one left in downtown Lawrence.

While the pay phone fills a need, the younger generation seems baffled by the device.

“How do I dial on this?” asked Ari Martin, an 11-year-old at the library.

While testing out the pay phone, Martin and a few others born in this century, repeatedly attempted to dial a number on the phone keypad without lifting the handset out of the cradle. See their confusion — and curiosity — in the video above.

“Kind of a weird echo, but it’s pretty cool,” Martin said.

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