Folks of a certain age will have no idea what I'm talking about when I mention a payphone. But for anyone over the age of 30, using a payphone may not be foreign to them. I'm old enough to remember when we had pagers and when we got a page from a friend, we'd run to the nearest payphone in the mall or gas station to call them back. But do payphones still exist in 2024? I found a website that supposedly listed active payphone numbers in Texas, including in East Texas, and decided to try four of those phone numbers to see if someone would answer that number.

Nostalgia Trip

I remember inside the Broadway Square Mall in Tyler, to the right of JC Penny, was a wall lined with about 10 payphones. I can remember at least two of them being used anytime I was at the mall. I used them several times when I would get that 911 page from a friend. We always had a quarter ready to drop in the payphone to give them a call back at the number they imputed for the pager.

Cell Phones

Cell phones have been a thing since the 1980s. At that time, though, they were big and bulky and very, very expensive. As mobile technology got better by the year 2000, the need for payphones began to decline.

I was able to find a website called that contained listed payphone numbers all across the United States. You can filter that list by state and then by city. I went through the list for Texas, specifically looking at our East Texas cities. I decided it would be fun to call those numbers to see if the number still worked and if, by some weird happenstance, someone would answer the call.

Alba, Big Sandy, Longview, Tyler

The first East Texas city on the list is Alba. There is one phone number listed. I called and someone did pick up. Apparently that payphone number has been reassigned to a business in Alba. I tried a phone number in Big Sandy but only got that weird fax machine screech. The numbers I called in Tyler and Longview were not in operation anymore.

I recorded those calls which you can listen to below:

To be honest, I have no idea if payphones are still set up in East Texas. Personally, I haven't seen one in a long, long time. But it was still fun to head down this nostalgia trip.

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