FOO-HAHA – 366-4242–Channeling People’s Bank’s Legendary Time And Temp

Your host, right, with legendary People’s Bank executives David Carson and Jim Biggs. 2009.

In this year 2021, Bridgeport’s bicentennial, we will do our best to dial up the origin of things that really are only discussed on OIB, because that’s what we do. We are like the original bar fights of yesteryear, except no bars open in Connecticut, unless accompanied by a layer of plexiglass, or something like that.

If you’re a Boomer (like me), maybe even Gen X, technology meant numbers and letters, you picked up the rotary phone (careful for a party line) and dialed 366-4242. You wanted the time, temp and weather. Some robotic-voiced woman way ahead of Alexa intoned–a big deal those days decades before smart phones–People’s Bank time and temperature …

It was glorious. Someone to glisten info without barking back.

People’s United Bank, based in Bridgeport, is now a financial powerhouse in New England, far removed from those sleepy days in Connecticut known simply as People’s Bank.

OIB charter readers Paul “Local Eyes” Griffith, Bob “Troll” Walsh, Jim “Sonny” Fox and Howard “Front Row” Seat engaged in a back and forth about this subject that piqued interest.

One of the good (or bad) things about being me is digging deep into genesis. I’ve been blessed to work with People’s Bank executives such as David Carson and Jim Biggs, now long retired, but nevertheless extraordinary resources that connect past to present.

Fascinating how things work: both of them were way ahead of their time technologically, pay-by-phone, ATMs and branches into Stop & Shops (the origin of this story) on their watches. Also, Bridgeport-community generous.

Biggs arrived at People’s in 1960, a classy tennis player from Dartmouth, learning the banking biz. We jogged his memory:

I do know that when I joined the bank in 1960 the service was in place, and you did not dial numbers; you dialed FOO-HAHA! That was easier to remember then dialing 366–4242. I don’t know what the bank paid for the service, probably not much. It came out of Atlanta Georgia and I remember being told that it received about 40,000 calls a day from our customers and probably a lot of other people who weren’t customers!

So, here’s to FOO-HAHA, a People’s memory and still going.

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23 comments

  1. Gee Thanks Lennie.
    A real EYE 👁 opener, wouldn’t you say Paul?
    It amazing how much more you can SEE when you look beyond your own perspective.
    A lesson to be learned by all. LOCAL and far away.

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    1. I’m the guy who introduced this topic.
      I’m the guy who prompted Lennie to write his latest post.
      I’m the guy who’s creating original content on some one else’s blog!

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  2. At least in New Haven (where I was born and raised}, one dialed a real word, SPRINGS, for the correct time. A service brought to us by Southern New England Telephone, a NON-AT&T member of the Bell system and operator of the nation’s first telephone exchange.
    Through several owners and currently Frontier, the number still works.

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    1. There was a time when SNETCO was the mightiest of the Bell Regionals.
      In 1964, SNETCO was an original member of the 14-member affirmative action network.
      Things have changed.

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  3. Did Peoples Bank Redline Bridgeport?
    So how many loans have they given out to people in Bridgeport vs. Trumbull, Fairfield and Redding?
    Connecticut Department of Banking should ask the question before they start closing Banks!

    The federal government was not involved in housing until 1934 when the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created as part of the New Deal. The FHA sought to restore the housing market after the Great Depression by incentivizing homeownership and introducing the mortgage lending system we still use today. Instead of creating policies to make housing more equitable, however, the FHA did the opposite. It took advantage of racially restrictive covenants and insisted that the properties they insured use them. Along with the Home Owner’s Loan Coalition (HOLC), a federally funded program created to help homeowners refinance their mortgages, the FHA introduced redlining policies in over 200 American cities.

    Beginning in 1934, the HOLC included in the FHA Underwriting Handbook “residential security maps” used to help the government decide which neighborhoods would make secure investments and which should be off-limits for issuing mortgages. The maps were color-coded according to these guidelines:

    Green (“Best”): Green areas represented in-demand, up-and-coming neighborhoods where “professional men” lived. These neighborhoods were explicitly homogenous, lacking “a single foreigner or Negro.”
    Blue (“Still Desirable”): These neighborhoods had “reached their peak” but were thought to be stable due to their low risk of “infiltration” by non-White groups.
    Yellow (“Definitely Declining”): Most yellow areas bordered Black neighborhoods. They were considered risky due to the “threat of infiltration of foreign-born, negro, or lower grade populations.”
    Red (“Hazardous”): Red areas were neighborhoods where “infiltration” had already occurred. These neighborhoods, almost all of them populated by Black residents, were described by the HOLC as having an “undesirable population” and were ineligible for FHA backing.
    These maps would help the government decide which properties were eligible for FHA backing. Green and blue neighborhoods, which usually had majority-White populations, were considered good investments. It was easy to get a loan in these areas. Yellow neighborhoods were considered “risky” and red areas (those with the highest percentage of Black residents) were ineligible for FHA backing.

    The End of Redlining Continued Impact of Redlining
    The impact of redlining goes beyond the individual families who were denied loans based on the racial composition of their neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods that were labeled “Yellow” or “Red” by the HOLC back in the 1930s are still underdeveloped and underserved compared to nearby “Green” and “Blue” neighborhoods with largely White populations. Blocks in these neighborhoods tend to be empty or lined with vacant buildings. They often lack basic services, like banking or healthcare, and have fewer job opportunities and transportation options. The government may have put an end to the redlining policies that it created in the 1930s, but it has yet to offer adequate resources to help neighborhoods recover from the damage that these policies have caused and continue to inflict.

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  4. Jimfox, let me agree with lisa and Don, but let me say this, if Don or myself had made the same post would totally reject it and say that we were playing the race card. Jimfox, thanks for the history.

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    1. Jimfox, Tom White hates anything that’s cut and paste that doesn’t support his view point. It would easy for Tom White to counter with his own supportive information to challenge but he won’t because he can’t find anything.

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      1. I am suggesting that comments with content not your own be identied as to source.
        This is a difficult concept for Ron Mackey given his lack of first-hand knowledge and casual use of copy and paste and taking credit for its content.

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        1. Tom White, someone like Jimfox must have a very good understanding of a topic for them to cut and paste a comment on the that topic. I’ll give the name who ever wrote something that I cut and paste.

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  5. On topic:
    It was not FOO, it was Forest 6 – 4242.
    372-xxxx was Edison 2 – xxxx,
    etc.

    I’m sure many recall as children being allowed to dial 366-4242 in learning to use a telephone.

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  6. So Tom White. Did you know that there hasn’t been a Black woman elect to a House Leadership position in over 40 years. The last Black woman was Shirley Chisholm.
    Since I didn’t copy and paste this is this OK 👌🏻 or do I still need to I’d where I got this from?
    If I don’t I’d this, does this make it any less true? Or is it that if you don’t like where this came from you can call it questionable?

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  7. No, Bob, there is no need to cite a source for meaningless identity politics drivel.
    It would be like me saying that the last seven presidents have been at least six feet tall.

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    1. Bob, Tom White expects everybody to believe his theory woven by QAnon like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) repeatedly supported disturbing conspiracy theories and liked social media posts that suggested executing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and FBI agents.

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