True stories with a twist!

Everything needs updating eventually: kitchen cabinets, paint jobs, weird, bizarre directions your eyebrows start to grow.

And your address book. Reading your address book is a trip through the stages of your life. The memories aroused when you read names of past contacts awaken all kinds of feelings. Coming across a name, address and number brings back memories. An address book is a grand party of memories linked together in alphabetical order. One friend whose name I found caused me to think,

“I remember the times we’d speak while we watched the children play. We opened our hearts to each other and spoke in uncensored ways that revealed our innocence and trust way back then. Life has taught us not to be so free with our secrets. Life has frightened us to trust. That freedom will never happen again. Now thoughts and feelings are shared with groups, such as the reading group, where discussions of authors’ work bring us to express our own. We reveal our emotions through the writings of others.

Rewriting the address book requires tests of loyalty, persistence and a little bit of pragmatic sadism. Have you changed your address book since phone numbers consisted of names and numbers, as in Butterfield 8-2000? Since party lines disappeared? Since telephones were connected to wall outlets?

  • “I haven’t heard from her in ages. Why should I put her number in the new book?”images-4
  • ”We haven’t been in touch since the school fund raiser, and our children graduated back in the 90‘s.”
  • “He retired and left a zillion years ago. His new number isn’t even in this area code.”

Divorces wreck address books. They do one of two things to your book: remove one contact, or add one more. Retirement changes addresses, towns and states, making your list obsolete. Death is a permanent status, and keeping the departed’s contact information can be  misleading.

Does your new address book offer spaces for land line phones and cell phones? Home numbers and work numbers? Fax numbers? Email addresses?

This is all too complicated. I’ll just order some additional blank pages and keep everyone where they should be and always were, if only in my memory.


  1. I truly enjoyed your post. An address book does initiate a million thoughts and memories of past. How many a times do we come across such writing about ordinary things creating a surge of emotions, happy and sad. Beautiful

  2. Terrific spin on a relatable topic, Ronnie. You’re right that address books are loaded with more than just names and addresses!

  3. DAVID LERMAN said:

    This is wonderful and so true.  I got a new address book, but couldn’t throw the old one away…memories come in all shapes and sizes…..loved it.  Miriam

  4. A few extra pages is a good idea, i tend to write the names in pen and the numbers and addresses in pencil.. especially when it comes to my children!! c

  5. That’s life! It just keeps moving.
    People, experiences, moments and so many things keep coming and going.
    Some are truly worth preserving; even if not in our address books, at least in our hearts.
    I love this post because it took me down the memory lane and brought so many people and experiences to mind.
    I am now left with imaginations of a classical reunion!
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. My address book is thirty years old (and counting). It has too much sentimentality, at this point, to ever retire it. Even my cell phone still holds a few numbers of the now deceased. Apparently I can move on, but letting go is not my strong suit!

    I like this post. Thanks for sharing your insightful, and thought provoking, perspective.

  7. Like you, Ronnie, I keep old address books and calendars. It’s hard for me to part with these things. It does seem like a death in the family, though, when some are not included in the new, updated address book.
    Listening in on party lines? When I was a teen and living in a rural area, I tried that. But the folks on our 8-party line were Polish. I never learned enough Polish to benefit from that deal. 🙂

  8. Yup. I am one who keeps everyone in that book, cuz ya never know.
    And I’m totally with you on the eyebrows – classic!

    • So we agree on the eyebrow madness and also the keeping everyone in the book. It is funny how you never know; I have wanted/needed to call “past people” more than once, and was so happy to have their numbers on hand.

      • Yes. I’ve had mixed results, of course – some people drop off the map because they don’t want to be found by me or anybody else. Still, I’m happy to do whatever dance with them is necessary. Out of seven billion and counting, it’s a quantum miracle that we meet and connect at all. And for better or for worse, I am grateful. Blessings, Ronnie!

  9. This is an interesting perspective on the address book at a time of year when I am going through mine to write out holiday cards.

    • Yes, I have just eliminated two people from my holiday list; one from Virginia who sends endless notes of trouble, woe and complaints every year and the other, from California, sends a photo of themselves and huge family on vacation somewhere exotic, with not one word about anything. I dread their cards every year. Bah humbug!

  10. I never thought of my address book that way, but you are absolutely right. It takes diligence and a strong heart. I save all my old ones (pen and ink variety) thinking I will one day look back at the earlier versions. Thanks for sharing this very thoughtful post.

  11. I now use my cell phone for contacts but still have my old address book with all its scribblings and notations. When I look at it, I find a number of entries that make me say “who are these people?”

  12. A very thoughtful post. Address books play a vital part in our lives. Our memories make them worth the while. I still have one, but it’s now old and covered with dust. My phone and computer have taken its place, though.

    • Agreed, but although more efficient, cell phone directories don’t have the same kind of emotional overlay as a written address book. Plus, if there’s a power failure or computer stubborn streak I couldn’t look anything up unless I had a written address book.

  13. My wife and I have moved house over 20 times in our 38 years of marriage making a real mess of our friends address books:)

  14. Great post! I find the same when updating my diary annually with birthdays. Although with cellphones, fb and on-line diaries, that’s becoming obsolete now.
    Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

  15. I keep all my contacts on my phone .. but Linda and I have a book as well…. I call it the history book as some names have had numbers change up to 10 times as they’ve moved or upgraded to cell phones… but it is a bit of history as some are still old farm party lines where everyone (you pictured) used to listen in to your conversations…. long gone now… but still history..

  16. I use the contacts on my phone as my address book, but I was looking at an address book in a store the other day and couldn’t believe all the different lines: address, phone number, cell number, pager number, email address (work and home), website—went on forever, it seemed. 🙂

  17. Alice said:

    Address books are like journals aren’t they?

  18. I too still favor a pen and ink address book– and calendar. A dying breed for sure, but works. True about divorce, and people moving, students in college, etc. You need lots of lines for all the various phone numbers, fax, email, etc. too.

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