Payphone in Chevy Chase dials up humor and history

A local resident gave new life - and a new voice - to a piece of history.

A payphone mysteriously appeared in Chevy Chase earlier this year. But it isn’t exactly like the payphones of the past – the calls are free, and people can dial "*1" to hear a joke.

"Knock knock." "Who’s there?" "Alaska." "Alaska who?" "Alaska one more time to let me in!"

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The man behind the restoration and the puns is Don Rutledge.

"I bought an old pay phone, made it work as a VoIP (internet) phone, then added a jokes function for even more fun," said Rutledge in an Instagram post.

The payphone tells jokes, spews fun facts, and even calls a Guy/Gal On Demand - which is just a fancy way to call Don’s home phone.

Local resident Bethany Rue said her five-year-old daughter and other kindergarteners took turns using the payphone on the way to school. 

"We had to get a joke or two every day," said Rue.

The phone, built in Taiwan in 1991, is connected to Rutledge’s home Wi-Fi by a computer program he installed. People can use the payphone to call anyone over the Internet. Rutledge keeps track of the phone’s statistics on his website.

The phone can dial anywhere in the United States for free, and it comes equipped with a phonebook.

But the payphone’s instruction manual suggests you dial one number in particular: "Call your mother, she misses you."