Finally the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company took mercy and gave the Taylors a new number. Callers to Gerald Ford's old 751-0177 number now are intercepted by a no-nonsense operator. The Taylors don't miss the excitement a bit—especially the crank calls. "My own mother called," says Alicia, "and tried to fool me. My own mother."
Their siege is lifted now, but for a time, David and Alicia Taylor were answering the telephone for the President of the United States. It wasn't much fun. The Taylor's troubles began in February, when they had a phone installed in their Alexandria, Va. apartment. Routinely, they were assigned a number which had been discarded by a previous customer, who had decided to get a private line. Soon the phone began to ring and ring. "Is the Vice-President there?" voices would ask. It didn't take the Taylors long to figure out the problem: their new number was Gerald Ford's old number, dating back to his Congressional days. And, it was still listed in the current directory. As summer came and the Watergate crisis worsened, so did the Taylor's predicament There were 150 calls one week, "We buried the phone in pillows, wrapped it in towels, even took it off the hook," says Taylor. After Nixon's resignation, all Alicia did was answer the telephone. "Kids would ask, 'Is the President there?' and I'd say 'No,' and they'd say 'Thank you' and hang up."