By Beth Martin
The first phone booth was installed in the U.S. around 1889 and by 1902 over 81,000 were counted. But by 2019 in Comanche, Texas only one phone booth remains, found in the Soda Shop on the square.
When the Shop originally opened it was a booth only with no working phone due to all the new technology. But Mary Boyd stepped in and saved history. Recruited to “fix and convert it to modern technology” was John Snapp, chief technology officer with West Safety Services in Long Mount, Colorado. Snapp is known for designing the 911 wireless network architecture, available all over the U.S. and many other countries. Jerry Shelton, retired USAA, installed the converted phone to the Soda Shop phone booth. Jerry is the brother of Mary Boyd.
Mary, John and Jerry donated their collective time in memory of the late John Boyd, Mary’s husband. John was a former sheriff in Comanche County, a CHS graduate, and remembered fondly by those who knew him.
The Soda Shop phone booth, with a working phone, is a collector’s rarity and highly desired.
Customers to the Soda Shop can step into the booth, sit, close the door and speak privately in a cozy setting reminiscent of the 1950s.
It’s fun, educational and according to Mary Boyd not only a memory of phone conversations but memories of a makeshift dressing room and a place to congregate and set a record for the Guinness Book of World Records.
The only glitch is a missing authentic ringer for the phone. The Soda Shop is looking to the community to search their attics and backrooms for an old abandoned 50s phone that a ringer can be salvaged from. If such a phone is found and the owner is willing to donate the ringer, please let the folks at the Soda Shop or Comanche Mercantile know. Then will history truly have a familiar sound.