Do You Remember the “Time Lady”?
The time change over the weekend reminded me of when we used to call the "Time Lady" to get the exact time while resetting our clocks after a time change. Do you remember the local telephone number, and the female voice on the opposite end of the line, who would give you time at the tone?
We always referred to her as the "Time Lady". Locally here in West Michigan her number was (616) 459-1212. That service, as we know it, was discontinued years ago.
The lady doing the recordings was Jane Barbe. In 1963, she began recording messages for the Audichron Company. She announced the time, temperature and weather, as well as doing recordings for early voice mail systems. In the 1970s and 1980s, she regularly recorded the error messages that we heard if a phone number was disconnected or other number dial errors.
The plug was pulled on that service sometime in the early 2000s.
Barbe and her husband also created several hundred singing commercials (jingles) and she performed on many of them. She also did voice-over work on TV and films, including the voice of Southern author Margaret Mitchell in the 1988 documentary "The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind".
Back in the late 90s, I interviewed Jane. It was weird talking to such a familiar voice that I had heard so many times growing up. (It was the same experience when I talked to the guy who did AOL's "You've Got Mail" recording.)
Jane died of cancer in Roswell, Georgia, on July 18, 2003. She was 74 years old.
Here is a sample of some of Jane Barbe's work...
Another familiar voice was that of Pat Fleet who who eventually took over Barbe's role.
Here is a story that Ted Koppel did on both ladies...
I miss being able to just pick up the phone and call the "Time Lady". And, it was always fun to write on the bathroom wall: "For a good time call (616) 459-1212!"
If you call the number today, it still goes through to a "time and temp" service, however now you will hear an advertisement and the familiar voice of the past is no longer on the other end of the phone line.