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Jack Freer

In Search of the Next Mojave Phone Booth

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I have a good phone booth story.

Way back in the olden days, before cell phones, and when I was still a slick sleeve patrolman doing graveyard shift, one wintry night it was snowing like the dickens and my beat was...well...the hinterland. Dispatch asked me to call for a detail...never a good sign if they don't want to put it out on the radio. I went to a phone booth, dialed 911 and dispatcher answered. (We used to call it the save a dime line) Seemed she had been called by the highway patrol and they had a couple of drunk people stuck in the snow about 30 miles up a lousy road to nowhere....where a phone booth was.

I was in a 4x4 Bronco. I got elected.

So I am in 4lo for about 25 of those 30 miles....sketchy as heck...but I make it. These people are supposed to be waiting at the phone booth.  This is in an area where there was only one year round resident. My group was not at the booth. I went over and banged on the door at the house....they hadn't seen anyone. At this point I was more than a little angry...and naturally our repeater had gone down so I couldn't get out on the radio. Snowing like crazy and my tracks were rapidly disappearing. I went over and got into the phone booth and hit the save a dime line number.

"911 Emergency."

"Hey...this is Arch. I am 10-97. There isn't anyone up here, Bob the local says he hasn't seen anyone since morning...what the heck?"

"This is 911. Do you have an Emergency? Where are you sir?"

Well it took about 3  minutes before we figured out she wasn't my dispatcher..and I wasn't her deputy. In fact somehow the fine folks at ATT had decided to put me through to the Alameda County Sheriff's 911 center...in Oakland...California. About 185 miles from my actual location. I told her where I worked, she asked me about the weather and I told her about the call and that I was up to my knees and then some in snow. She was just as befuddled as I was...said her screen didn't tell me where I was calling from. In fact she had never heard of where I was calling from.

I asked her to call my dispatch and tell them I was ok and going to try to get the hell outta there. She did. It took me 3 hours to get down to where I could unlock the hubs. When I was finally able to call my dispatch center she was amazed. She and the Alameda gal chatted for about 10 wondering about how this had happened.

The clowns that called for help called and cancelled the next day. They got cold and so they went back to their cabin, built a fire in the woodstove and made it out the next day. The following summer...and every summer thereafter when I was in that area I hit 911 on that pay phone. Never again did I talk to the nice lady in Oakland.  Crazy.


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While working on the desert phone booth project I found that there was a phone booth that was noted on the AAA maps many years before the Mojave Phone Booth was. That phone was called Lanfair #1 and it was located at the intersection of Ivanpah Road and Cedar Canyon Road in Lanfair Valley. 

The "Telephone" marker appears on the 1975 San Bernardino County map but not on the 1965 map edition.  If any of you just happen to have the 1966 through 1974 editions, if you would please check to see if the "Telephone" marker is printed on the map I would greatly appreciate the help!

The cover of those map editions should be the standard two tone blue and besides San Bernardino County may also include Lake Mead, Las Vegas or the San Bernardino Mountain areas.

Here is a link to a photo of Lanfair #1 in 1980.

Lanfair #1

Thanks for the help!


Lanfair 1975 AAA map.jpg


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