“SAM” S.I. Hayakawa
Master of Semantics
It was a dull news day when Tom Pettit informed us that Hayakawa was greeting the press at the downtown Los Angeles Statler Hotel. Here from the north, Hayakawa was continuing his crusade against what was then the newly proposed change being made by the telephone company: replacing prefix names with numbers and adding three additional digits for area codes in front.
Good Sam was not a mathematician and detested numbers so he organized what he called the Anti-Digit Dialing League comprised mostly of friends and relatives, with a membership of less than twenty. While he was usually capable of gathering press, apparently we were the only newsmen interested in this subject. While he was usually capable of gathering press, apparently we were the only newsmen interested in this subject.
Hayakawa’s prophetic, whimsical comments slowly turned to truth. His approach was quite logical in assessing the situation as he referred mainly to the personal hardship being brought about by the monster phone company to people with poor memories, and those like himself who were inept with numbers. Instead of simply having to remember five numbers, with a two letter prefix, like PE 6-5000, five additional numbers would precede the other five, making it: 409-736-5000. Outraged, he commented that it wouldn’t be long before individuals would be known by their social security number, rather than their name.