Tilton

Advanced Member
2,801
United States
Arlington
Virginia
I know phone calls used to be a dime - were they ever a penny?
I think this is an urban myth that was partially popularized (at least recently) by the Brook Brothers blog. My father recalls NYC payphones costing $0.05 in the early 1940's and in 1951 there is a documented change to charging $0.10/call. Considering that Weejun's (the first production penny loafer sold in the US) came out in mid-1936, it seems extremely unlikely that is the source of the design because (assuming a phone call was ever $0.02) there would only have been about 4 years that the story would have ever been true (1936-1940). I'm especially skeptical when you take into consideration that 3-4 years from inception to $0.05 payphones is probably not enough time for pennies-on-campus to be a fully realized trend and that prior to the release of the Weejun (which originally came with the penny slot), the shoe design existed in that basic state as a peasant shoe in Norway (very wealthy sportsmen who went salmon fishing in Norway started buying them while on vacation and wearing them as casual shoes in Palm Beach around 1934). I could be wrong, but I think the drunk college student thing just sort of plays too easily off the stereotype of pennies and is just a bit too convenient of a story given the history.
 
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Reuben

Honors Member
3,261
United States
GA
Athens
I still use pennies, but as others have mentioned, adjusted for inflation, pennies are no longer adequate........

DANG, Roycru. The shoes are nice but those embroidered cords are killer.
 

Matt S

Connoisseur
7,852
United States
NY
New York
Will quarters work?
Two quarters and you'll have enough for a call now, if you can actually find a working pay phone. The last time I needed a pay phone the two I could find just took my money.
 

Youthful Repp-robate

Honors Member
4,560
United States
New Jersey
Montclair
I think this is an urban myth that was partially popularized (at least recently) by the Brook Brothers blog.
From what I recall, wasn't it a dime per shoe, and then it became pennies when calls became a quarter?

When was the first time they were called "penny loafers," anyway?
 

Tilton

Advanced Member
2,801
United States
Arlington
Virginia
From what I recall, wasn't it a dime per shoe, and then it became pennies when calls became a quarter?

When was the first time they were called "penny loafers," anyway?
Now, I wouldn't know anything about dimes or when the name came around, but I am pretty confident the penny aspect was never really for making phone calls. The Brooks blog clearly states that it was pennies and that calls were $0.02, which is where I got it from (and presumably others in this thread as well). But, Brooks is in the business of selling that kind of story to sell a product and not historical accuracy, so I recommend reading brand-blogs with a hearty amount of skepticism, especially when they start talking history and heritage. Just my $0.02, though.
 
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