Crank Calls, A New Year's Eve Tradition

It was a childhood treat fueled by a grandmother with a good-natured taste for vengeance. At midnight, the grandchildren were urged to make crank calls people who had crossed grandma in the past year.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

As the final hours of 2006 tick by this evening, it's got me thinking of years gone by and how I rang in the New Year as a child. We would usually spend the holidays in Atlanta at my grandparent's. And on New Year's Eve at my mom's parent's house, we always got to stay up until midnight. That's when my grandmother would hand over the telephone to me, my brother and my two cousins. Then the fun would begin.

(Soundbite of phone ringing)

STEPHANIE (Cousin): Hello?

ELLIOTT: Hello there, this is the Amana Corporation. I'm calling to find out if your refrigerator is running.

(Soundbite of click)

ELLIOTT: That click was my cousin Stephanie hanging up the phone. She apparently doesn't take a joke as well as she dished it out years ago.

(Soundbite of phone ringing)

STEPHANIE: Hello?

ELLIOTT: Hello.

STEPHANIE: Hey.

ELLIOTT: This is the Amana Corporation, you better go catch your refrigerator. Do you remember doing that at midnight at Mamma Stewart's house?

STEPHANIE: Oh my gosh. And banging pots and pans.

ELLIOTT: Yes.

STEPHANIE: Which I'm sure she loved.

ELLIOTT: You see, Mamma Stewart, as we called her, had a mischievous streak. She would even provide the phone numbers for our crank calling pleasure. One year it was the builder she couldn't get to finish out the work on her house. But mostly, she just like to have fun. That's why she'd set us loose with pots and pans in the front yard to make our own fireworks on New Year's Eve. Hmm, maybe I'll break open the kitchen cabinet for my kids tonight.

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