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Local phone collector has always known his calling

SAN MARCOS — Every morning Dan Golden wakes up, gets dressed and pins a badge to his shirt that reads, “Classic Telephone Collector.”
“Do you want me to tell you how this badge made me a half million dollars?” he asks. “It starts conversations.”
Those conversations lead to business for both his antique phone collection venture he runs out of his San Marcos home and Golden Telecom, his phone installation and repair company located in Oceanside.
Golden estimates that he has 500 antique phones valued at $30,000. He has an additional 1,500 he uses for parts to build specific phones on demand.
“I keep them for when major motion picture studios call and want the ‘real deal’ for a film,” he says.
His most valuable phone is an 1887 long distance transmitter that looks like a Victorian candlestick that is worth about $20,000.
“My favorite is the world’s oldest Bell system wall-mounted switchboard made in 1881,” he said. That and all of Golden’s antique phones are operable, and ready to use.
He even has a nickel-plated bronze candlestick phone made by Alexander Graham Bell in 1887.
“In 1876 Bell was told that his invention was worthless because people weren’t willing to have wires in their home,” Golden said, grinning. “The person went on to say that a telegraph operator could key faster than a human could talk. You know who said that to him? The chairman of the board of Western Union.”
Golden says he harbored an ambition of one day working for the telephone company from childhood. Coincidentally, he spent his youth in Wichita, Kan., daydreaming of being a lineman long before Glen Campbell released his hit song, “Wichita Lineman” in 1968.
Golden’s family moved from Wichita to Southern California in 1964. In 1967 he applied for employment with Pacific Bell but was denied because he was eligible for the draft. Instead, he enlisted in the army.
“It was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “My schooling was for line-of-sight microwave and assorted attached gear to end users. This included military telephones. I was a telephone man on steroids.”
In 1969 Golden forged a career with Pac Bell, that included being a telephone man and an historian, after being discharged from the military. He attributes working with microwave technology in the army to strong opinions he freely shares about the dangers of cell phone technology today.
“We know electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation is a problem,” he said. “In 20 years people will be dying when the problem could have been easily repaired by doing the opposite of what you think. We need more cell towers, not fewer, that put out a lower-intensity signal.”
He adds, “We already have the infrastructure in place to put out low-intensity cell sites throughout neighborhoods and businesses. The high-powered ones should only be needed in desolate areas. That’s good because there are no people there.”
Golden said the future of the human race will depend on a blended combination of technologies that include satellite, low-intensity cell sites and “other low-intensity but high-speed solutions of an individual nature.”
Given the health risks, Golden says he has no plans to purchase a 4G phone even though he knows they will continue to be popular.
“As long as people are writing checks for innovative features, they will get them — even if it kills them,” he said.
Golden has acquired many of his antique phones from “pickers” who purchase storage lockers from owners who have defaulted on the rent. He’s earned the name “Mister Payday” for paying higher than normal prices for collectible phones. In October he was invited to participate in an episode of “Storage Wars” filmed in San Diego, which will air soon on the A&E cable network.

1 comment

pookey August 5, 2012 at 7:49 pm

contact me regarding a 1940’s original pay phone……never been restored or repaired…works great shape….looking for Dan Gordon

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