Back in 1947, it seems they used a gloriously old-fashioned land-line. LIFE magazine dug through their archives from back then, and found adorable photos of children chatting up a real-life Santa. FAO Schwartz toy store had set up a call line where "children could dial [a] number (MU8-2205) and speak directly to Santa himself, laying out their wishes for the holiday," and the magazine sent a photographer to capture the magic.
While the practice may not have stood the test of time, the joy in their faces certainly has. These photos prove that a simple phone call can be just as powerful as a fancy app.