animated_open24hours.gif (8532 bytes)


OF THE 1940'S & 50'S






Phone Booth Packing phonebooth1.jpg (11247 bytes)

Phone Booth Packing was a 1950's fad whereby a bunch of people crammed themselves into a telephone booth.  Why would anyone do this?   Well, to college kids in 1959, it was all the rage, even getting to a competitive level with colleges against college.  It was the thing to do with all of your friends.  It involved getting at lest ten people together and seeing how many you could get to fit into a phone booth.  The question arose whether packing into a phone booth meant the whole body, half a body or just a part of a body.  Should the door be able to close or could it remain opened.

It began when a South African college said it had been able to fit twenty-five students into a booth made for one, setting a "world record" that has never been defeated.  This set the competition off to a start that very same spring.  Before coming to the North America, a group of London University students packed into one of the wide-body booths that were made over there.  Unlike their South African counterparts, they were only able to fit nineteen even though their booth was bigger.

By 1959, cramming sessions were under way on many U.S. and Canadian campuses.  Some tried using extra-large fraternity hall phone booths, and a group of Canadian students was able to jam forty of themselves into one.  However, this was considered cheating, and from then on, usually only standard American sized booths were used to pack people in.  At a junior college in Modesto, California, a phone booth was donated by a phone company and the students turned it on it's side.   They succeeded in going thirty-four people high, but their record was argued as invalid.  This yet led to another rule that the phone booth had to be upright.

Some real fun was had in April of 1959 when seven young men from Fresno College crammed into a phone booth submerged in a swimming pool.  Not to be outdone, though, the woman of Fresno College succeeded in jamming eight in the Fresno Hacienda Motel Pool.

The British made a rule in that one of the inhabitants had to either place a call or answer a ringing phone.  While this was soon the case all over Britain, here in America only a few followed that requirement.  But something that changed the overall fad was the necessity for planned-packing.  Although at the beginning of this fad people would get in a booth like they were stuffing crumpled paper into a drawer, enterprising students (engineers and physicists to be precise) decided that they had to be a little bit more sophisticated about it.

One of the first planned styles of cramming was sandwich-style. Ryerson Tech students in Toronto made this one up, but it was soon disregarded because the students had protruding legs coming from the booth.  Students from MIT took a "scientific" approach, and were able to seat nineteen carefully and comfortably in a fraternity phone cubicle that was much larger than the regularly used type of booth.   But the most efficient by far was the group at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California.  They were encouraged to "Beat South Africa" and almost did.   They were the group that came the closest by fitting twenty-two smallish students into a booth with a carefully planned and well-executed crosshatch stacking technique.

This fad began to expire when cramming of a different kind was introduced. Studying for May and June finals meant that students had to concentrate on other things. So when the stuffing stopped, it marked the end of an era, bringing on new things in the sixties.


 When it is necessary to call from a phone booth, make sure you have an international calling card to avoid high rates. Our phone cards are easy to use and have the best rates of any international calling card. You can even become an international calling card distributor with our wholesale calling cards.


Master Recipes

Reader's Recipes

Cooking Terms

Blue Plate Special

Cooking Trivia


Spice Archives

Fads of the '40s & '50's

Early Television

Famous People

Music You Remember

About Brad

Brad's Tips  

Brad's Thoughts

Culinary Links


Webrings Copyright 2000-2014
All Rights Reserved