1.8 min readBy Published On: October 8th, 2021Categories: Features3 Comments on 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.


  1. Tom Hickey May 3, 2022 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Wasn’t there also a TV ad with that jingle? I seem to remember a cartoon of a grinning boy eating cookies. I’d watch it at my Nana’s apartment in Winter Hill …while sitting on her thin maroon rug.

  2. Merrimac December 8, 2022 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Strictly speaking it was ANdrew8-8000, Town taxi HAcock6-5000 DEVonshire-1212 for the police. My grandmother’s telephone book had all the numbers written down as AN8-

  3. Painter33 July 27, 2023 at 9:55 am - Reply

    For many of us, all we had to do was dial (or say if an operator was on the line) “5-6490” or other numbers. No prefixes and certainly no area codes.

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