New York Times Readers On Family Heirlooms And Traditions

[Ringtone]

Hello?

Hi, is this James?

Yes!

Hi, it’s Adam at The New York Times

calling to talk to you about your story that you submitted to our Heirlooms project,

about your phone number.

Can you tell me how this number entered your family,

and your first memory of encountering it?

My father was born and grew up

on the Lower East Side.

And this phone number was

his family phone number.

He, my aunt, my grandparents

and my great-uncle

all lived in a tenement in

what is now, you’d call, the East Village

but at the time, this is like the early 1950s,

was considered the Lower East Side.

They eventually moved to a cooperative in the neighborhood,

and the number kind of moved with them

in the ’60s.

And then I was born in the late ’70s

on Long Island

and, growing up,

this phone number was essentially

my grandparents’ phone number still,

and I used to call them on it.

And then, fast forward to the late ’90s,

I came to New York, into the city,

to go to school, to go to college.

And I ended up moving in with my grandfather.

He was a widower,

so he took me in, and we kind of became roommates.

And that number then became my phone number.

When it came time to get rid of the landline,

I had it ported over to my cell phone.

Area codes and phone numbers,

they used to geographically tie

a person to a place, right?

Like,

if you heard 212,

you knew that was somebody in Manhattan.

Or 718, or any other place in the country.

I wanted to keep the number

mostly because it was kind of a connection to

this place and the neighborhood, and

I didn’t want to lose that.

I have a daughter who has her own number, but

I’ll probably try to find a way to give it to her at some point,

in some capacity, just to keep it going.

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