A Likely Excuse: Missing A Date In The Pre-Cellphone Era

Hannah Keyser
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Poor George P. Keyes of Stapleton, Staten Island. All he wanted was a date with Miss Elise Howard of Dongan Hill, but instead he got a headline in the New York Tribune that's sure to cause a few laughs, even now—more than a century later.

"LOCKED IN PHONE BOOTH: Man Made Appointment With Girl, Then Couldn't Keep It," reads the title of a front page blurb from April 9, 1913. (If that doesn't paint a sitcom-worthy picture, I don't know what does.) The single paragraph story goes on to elaborate that at precisely 11 o'clock on the 8th, Mr. Keyes entered a phone booth, called Miss Howard and successfully secured a meeting for noon on that same day at the ferry house. Having hung up the phone, Mr. Keyes found himself imprisoned and lacking sufficient funds to call his prospective amour and reschedule.

What was presumably a frustrating three hours passed before the unlucky-in-love man was rescued after a passerby noticed him frantically beating against the glass and called a fireman. The article did not say how Miss Howard felt about being accidentally stood up. Commence cell phone appreciation.