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Really Old School Southie: Dialing Andrew-8

Back when dialing a phone was a whole thing…

Universal Hub posted a story about finding two very old plaques behind BU College of Arts and Sciences building that displayed a phone number – ANDREW 8-1633. This made me take a trip down memory lane. I remembered my grandmother and aunts singing a song “How many cookies did Andrew eat? Andrew ate 8000.”  I had know idea what the heck they were talking about at the time – but they were referencing an old jingle from a carpet cleaning company called Adams and Swett and it’s phone number.  So ANDREW 8-8000 was the phone number. Wait….wut?

There was a time when local phone numbers all started with two letters – that stood for a longer name/area etc. Universal Hub shares the list of letters and names here. So South Boston was ANDREW-8 – which stood for 268.  This is when you dialed on a rotary phone and didn’t have to use the 617 area code.  This is also when people had a telephone seat – because the idea of making a phone call was a sit down activity due to dialing all those numbers on a rotary dial. 

Back in 2000, it was required that you had to add the area code to the seven digit phone number in order for the call to go through. So for example, to call my Dad down the street in 1999, I would call 268-4954. In 2000, I would call 617-286-4954.  I know, insanity right? Now I just say into a phone call Dad.  On a side note, I can still remember all my friends and relatives phone numbers from my childhood.  Without the help of my iPhone 11 – I couldn’t tell you my sons’ cell number.

The time of ANDREW 8 was a much simpler time in the neighborhood; you could buy a house for about $6000, there were corner stores on every corner, and there were so few cars on the road, that kids filled the streets playing games like kick the can, stickball, hopscotch and jacks.  The only thing that wasn’t really simple was dialing a phone.

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Co-host of Caught Up, storyteller, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.