By Dennis Box
The Covington Reporter
There is a sign at the Black Diamond home of Keith Deaver that reads, “If the phone rings, please answer it.” No problem, he has more than 100.
The 86-year-old retired Northwest Airline pilot has been collecting telephones for more than 50 years and seriously building his collection for 10 years.
“I’ve been interested in phones ever since I was a kid,” Deaver said. “But then the telephones belonged to the phone company and had to be turned in when it was disconnected.”
One of the first phones Deaver picked up for his collection was a 1920s era candlestick, nondial phone he got in 1949.
On the wall of in his kitchen is a wooden wall-mounted crank phone from around 1900 and it works. He said the crank phones were common in rural areas of America into the 1950s.
Deaver said all of the phones will work, but he has the ringers turned off or his home would break into a mad-house of ringing every time someone called.
Among his collection of antique and novelty phones in the lower level of his home is an Elvis Presley phone where the king of rock ‘n’ roll breaks into a tune when a call comes in.
Another is a Marilyn Monroe phone depicting her in the 1955 Billy Wilder film, “The Seven Year Itch.” She is standing on a street grate in a white dress and when the phone rings a fan from under the grate blows her skirt up and she sings the song “I Wanna be Loved by You” from another Wilder film, “Some Like it Hot.”
Deaver has Disney character phones and a Coca Cola phone that plays the jingle used in commercials.
One of his favorites is a rotary dial airplane phone his son gave him in 1973.
Also in his collection is a plug-in switchboard from the 1930s, which works as well as the day is was first plugged into a telephone line.
Against the opposite wall is a wood public telephone booth with a pay phone, which, of course works.
Deaver donated crank phones to the Maple Valley Museum and Black Diamond Museum. He also donated a red emergency phone to the Maple Valley Fire Department.
Another novelty in his collection is a calculagraph, a manually operated time clock used by operators for timing calls.
After five decades of collecting, Deaver said he will continue to check out garage sales, swap meets and thrift stores for phones.
He enjoys showing his collection, especially to children who get a quick trip back in time.