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.
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“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.
Want to know the time and temperature in Fort Worth? Call 817-844-6611.
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.
This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.