Monson Telephone Co.
Monson Telephone Co. recreates a telephone booth that previously existed outside of the former Appalachian Station building. Led by artist Thalassa Raasch in collaboration with Dan Bouthot, the installation will consist of short stories and audio compositions that present facets of life in Monson, Maine. This storytelling project captures Monson at a moment of great change, gathering the recollections of lifelong residents alongside the impressions of newcomers.
The booth itself is a redesigned 1980s American payphone (not a walk-in booth). At any time, visitors are welcome to dial codes to access different vignettes. A dial tone of ambient noise from the surrounding area, such as the lake, trees, or distant voices, sounds when a visitor picks up the phone. Dialing one of the listed codes prompts a story to start playing.
A few of the planned stories include a soldier’s eerie World War I letter home, from the Monson Historical Society archives; a recollection about Friday night live music sessions in the former Monson General Store, where the pasta aisle was the hot spot to hang out and generate percussion; a New Yorker speaks of her experience as a queer person spending a month in Monson; a Monson native tells of the town’s former slate quarrying industry, and recites a poem recalling his boyhood in the town.
Once one of the stories ends, the dial tone will sound and another number may be dialed. Hanging up the phone starts the sequence over again. Dialing “0” cues the voice of a Monson resident, describing the project and how it works.
Monson Telephone Co. is an unconventional installation that works to build community sharing, pride, and dialogue; to bring Monson history to life while connecting visitors and residents through the power of storytelling in a familiar yet unexpected medium.