Millions of Americans grew up calling a local telephone number to find out the time and temperature — and, believe it or not, a fair number of folks still do.
In Fort Worth, a 66-year-old tradition nearly faded away earlier this year after a local bank decided to no longer sponsor the time-and-temp line, which is 817-844-6611.
But another business, Haltom’s Jewelers, stepped up to answer the call.
“I have been calling that number all my life,” said Jack Miller, 65, co-owner of Haltom’s Jewelers in Sundance Square. “I still call it in the middle of the night, when I get out of bed to get a drink of water.
“It’s the most accurate time there is, and it’s the most accurate weather forecast for that time in your city.”
In December, the service was almost completely disconnected after a sponsorship by Chase Bank was set to expire. Initially, it looked like no one wanted to pay the few hundred dollars a month to operate the telephone exchange.
But get this:
In an era when most people walk around with smartphones, there are still 10,000 to 20,000 people per day in Tarrant County who call the time-and-temp number. Yes, per day.
Miller, who already had a nostalgic fondness for the time-and-temp number, figured that for a few hundred bucks a month — less than the cost of a nice necklace — he could save the service and get a lot of name exposure with prospective customers.
It took a few months, but Miller said he eventually got the paperwork to transfer the rights to the telephone exchange to his business. It took more than a few phone calls, and in the process Miller had conversations with AT&T employees who weren’t even aware the time-and-temperature line existed.
In recent months, callers to 817-844-6611 received only a brief recorded statement of the time, followed by an explanation that the weather forecast had been suspended.
But as of last week, the line is once again a bastion of retro cheerfulness. Callers today will hear a friendly greeting and 15-second commercial for Haltom’s Jewelers.
And then, over a period of about another 20 seconds, they will get a recording of the current time, temperature and the next day’s weather forecast.
Just like in 1951.