Owen Murphy Lady

Owen Murphy Lady

New York Telephone Standard Voice

In the 1960’s, New York Telephone had an excellent “standard voice” for all of their recorded announcements. Unfortunately, I don’t know what her real name was, but it is known that she worked for the Owen Murphy production company. Evan Doorbell’s “Sounds of Long Distance – Part 6” includes a master copy of the vacant code recording which was sent to central offices throughout the state:

Vacant Code Recording

I’m sorry, we are unable to complete your call as dialed. Please check the number and dial again, or ask your operator for assistance. This is a recording.

(to replay, click the X)

I always loved her musical voice, and place it only second to the great Jane Barbe. Besides the “vacant code” recording, she did beautiful versions of “all circuits busy”, “machine intercept” and of course, her legendary “permanent signal” recording:

All Circuits Busy Recording

I’m sorry. All circuits are busy now. Will you try your call again later, please? This is a recording.

(to replay, click the X)

Call Did Not Go Through Recording

I’m sorry. Your call did not go through. Will you please hang up and try again? This is a recording.

(to replay, click the X)

Machine Intercept Recording

I’m sorry. The number you have reached is not in service or temporarily disconnected. The number you have reached is not in service at this time. This is a recording.

(to replay, click the X)

There appears to be a receiver off the hook!

Permanent Signal Recording

This is a recording. Please hang up. There are penalties for leaving appears to be a receiver off the hook. Please check your main telephone and extension. Then try your call again. Thank you.

(to replay, click the X)

Movie Appearance – “The Town and the Telephone”

Though I don’t know her name, I believe I do know what she looked like. An old Bell System promotional film entitled “The Town and the Telephone” produced by the Owen Murphy company features a short clip of a woman calling Directory Assistance Information to get the new number of Wilson’s meat market:

The new number is WRight-5-6240

The movie has no credits for the actors, but she certainly sounds like the same voice, don’t you think? Here’s a mash-up of New York Telephone recordings against the movie clip as an additional comparison:

The new number is WRight-5-6240?

At first that number seemed odd to me; the Phone Company typically used “555” (e.g.: KLondike-5) for fictitious phone numbers in movies or on TV, so as to avoid anyone’s real phone number getting flooded with nuisance calls. The exchange name “WRight” would also be prone to misdials (e.g.: RIght-5) if used for a real-life central office. However, a recent post by the famous telephone (and movie) historian, Mark Cuccia, explains that before they settled on “555”, a few other prefixes were also specifically not assigned to subscribers including “975” (WRight-5).

PBX Operating

My dad worked for a hotel; for many years he was the chief engineer who kept everything working. Years before, my uncle Norm was the manager there; my grandmother had worked there for a while; both of my sisters worked there at one time or another; and of course, I would eventually work there too.

When I was in third grade my sister, Susie, was working the front desk on Thanksgiving Day. My mom packed up a plate of food for her, and I brought it downtown to her on the Fifth Avenue bus. I was immediately enthralled by the switchboard, a Western Electric Model 551. The hotel wasn’t very busy on Thanksgiving, so Susie taught me how to run the switchboard!

I was just eight years old, but because I was so fascinated by the switchboard, I learned it very quick and soon could run the board better than the regular front desk staff (who basically hated the switchboard to begin with). Most of them were very happy to let me play with the switchboard while they took a break. That was nearly fifty years ago, and is just the very beginning of what became a diverse PBX operating career that spanned decades.

Kitty Carlisle – Panel Pulsing Ring

(to replay, click the X)

The charming and talented Kitty Carlisle sings the “No Such Number” vacant level intercept tone from a #1-Step central office in Montreal Quebec in this raucous ringtone which also features vintage telephone sounds from the famous GEdney-9 electromechanical “Panel” central office.

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GEdney-9 Panel Pulsing Ring

(to replay, click the X)

This lively mashup ringtone combines ringback tone from the famous GEdney-9 panel exchange with the sounds of electromechanical revertive pulsing. Towards the end of the ringtone, a GEdney-9 busy signal joins in, alerting you that time left to answer your call is running out!

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