Mike Hudden says the payphone at the southeast corner of Hospital Road and Sunrise Highway in East Patchogue has been there for decades — even before the 7-Eleven.
He would know. He’s been living in the immediate vicinity since elementary school, when he moved to Neptune Avenue with his family in 1977.
“They still exist?” he joked of the public phones.
They do exist. And it appears the payphone in East Patchogue is the last one standing in the GreaterPatchogue.com coverage area. A website called payphone-directory.org lists another payphone in the area, at the King Kullen shopping center on Montauk Highway in Blue Point, but a visit there turned up no such phone.
That means if you’re in a jam and you’re too shy to borrow someone’s cell, you have one option.
The phone in East Patchogue is operated by Pacific Telemanagement Services of California, which, according to its website, runs 45,000 payphones across the U.S.
A representative for the company could not be reached for further details.
At their height of use most payphones were owned and operated by the large phone companies such as AT&T. Today, those that are left are owned by lesser-known outfits, such as Pacific Telemanagement, according to a 2013 San Francisco Chronicle article. Read more.
The companies appear to make money on the payphones not just from coins, but with on-phone sticker ads, and free dial-up services.
For instance, you can dial *6 for free to “Get God’s Blessings” at the local phone. A real-life employee of a church will answer. She’ll ask you if you’d like to pray with her.
If you want to place an old-fashioned phone call, quite literally, it will cost you $.50 for local calls, or two minutes for $1 worldwide — in hard coins.
Huddon remembers when it cost a dime to place a call at the phone.
“And then you’d get a warning that you were going over your minutes,” he said. “That’s when you knew it was time to go.”
Would he find himself often using the phone on Hospital Road?
“Yup, I would use it,” he said. “If I had the ten cents.”
The phone does get use, though, he said.
“Mostly from people who come from the hospital and they need a ride,” he said.
Did we miss a public payphone in the Patchogue area? Be sure to tell us in comments below.
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