When was the last time you used a payphone — or even saw one? Making a phone call while out in public used to be an event — you had to search for a payphone (one that worked!). There was something adventurous, exciting, and romantic about speaking your words — of love, distress, or calls for help — into that magical round, hole-filled speaker.

Yes, holding the phone and speaking into it exposed you to (gasp) other people’s germs. But I like to think that I also picked some of the stories spoken into that mystical apparatus — and I’m grateful for the exposure.

Photo and graphic by Silver Birch (shot in parking lot of 99 Cent Store, Los Angeles)