Photo By: Mel Fechter

Mentoring Mankind with Memories and Musings

Jun 23,   Spring and Summer in Shangri La
Mar 20,   Adventures in Cyber Dating
Mar 13,   Stories of WWII are Fading Fast
Feb 22,   Canst Thou Protest Too Much?
Jan 26,   New Medical Paradigm On Horizon
Jan 16,   COLLEGE DAZE Is On the Horizon
Jan 10,   My Book Is On Its Way to Publication
Dec 18,   Red Letter Days Mark Milestones
Dec 17,   Today Was a Red Letter Day
Dec 1,   the 2nd Year of My Voyage is Over
Nov 20,   I Find Family and Friends at Hallmark
Nov 5,   My Book From the Male Viewpoint
Oct 12,   Music & Movies Mark My Milestones
Sep 18,   My New Life Appears on the Horizon
Aug 23,   Life is a Pathway with Many Forks
Aug 21,   The Importance of Doing My Best
Aug 4,   Life Imitates Hello Myrmidon
Aug 1,   Writing a Book Has Changed My Life
Jun 13,   Plants are Amazing Creatures
May 25,   Will You Accept My Apology?
May 1,   A Journal is a Window on Your Life
Apr 30,   A Road Trip to Shangri La
Apr 25,   Movies as Matchmakers
Apr 23,   Me at Seventy-Three!!!
Apr 19,   Make Time for Your Friends
Apr 14,   Can One Make a Difference?
Apr 9,   a snipit from HELLO MYRMIDON
Apr 1,   What Price Glory, Sweat, Tears
Mar 30,   To Retrieve or Not Retrieve
Mar 29,   Discourse on Decisions
Mar 25,   Memory Retrieval
Mar 24,   I Join the World Community
Mar 22,   Website Lessons
Mar 3,   My Miracles, Part 2
Mar 2,   My Miracles, Part 1
Feb 9,   Phones of Old, Part 2
Feb 7,   Twitterpated!!!
Jan 25,   Jacob and Esau, Part 2
Jan 24,   Jacob and Esau, Part 1
Jan 10,   A New Goal?
Jan 9,   My Earliest Memories
Dec 31,   2016: Successes and Failures
Dec 30,   2016: My Self-Discovery
Dec 28,   I Finally Hear My Angels
Dec 27,   Angels and Me
Dec 26,   Angels Inspire Me
Dec 24,   the Littlest Angel
Dec 23,   Story of My Name Part 3
Dec 22,   Story of My Name Part 2
Dec 21,   Story of My Name Part 1
Dec 19,   Prior Challenges Part 2
Dec 17,   Prior Challenges Part 1
Dec 16,   My Website Challenge
Dec 15,   Astrological Review of 2016
Dec 14,   North Coast Winter
Dec 13,   an Angelic Intervention
Dec 12,   Birth of HELLO MYRMIDON
Dec 11,   Christmas Lights Fade
Dec 10,   Christmas Art Project
Dec 9,   Finding a Perfect Tree
Dec 7,   Christmas with KW
Dec 6,   Christmas around the World
Dec 4,   Mom’s Story Part 2
Dec 3,   Mom’s Christmas Story Part 1
Dec 2,   Ghosts of Christmas Past
Dec 1,   My First Blog

Guest Blogs

Mar 24,   SusanDay on Being a Grandparent

8th Feb Phones of Old, Part 1

When my mother was born in 1907 not many homes had their own phones. Who can forget the scene with the telephone in the movie SARGENT YORK, as Alvin talks to his mom at the end of WWI on a crank-type phone on the wall in the general store? Fast forward a few decades to the 1950’s, where more modern telephones had become commonplace in the larger cities.

But things had not yet changed that much in rural America, such as where we lived in that small rural valley in northern California. The switchboard operator literally slept in the room with the switchboard, so people knew not to bother her at night unless it was an emergency. To make a call the person would turn the crank on the side of his phone to make it ring at the switchboard, and the operator would then ask what number the person wanted. Then she would put the plugs into the proper socket to make the connection.

It turned out to be a built-in answering service for my dad’s medical practice, since she handled all the calls that came to and from him. She knew where he was at any time, and today would probably have been called a dispatcher. This was very handy since he saw many more patients at their homes than he did in his office. In fact, he delivered most babies on their family’s kitchen table. I have heard some of those moms tell colorful stories about that even today.

Most of the phones were on party lines, as few as 2 or as many as a dozen or more shared a single line. These lines stretched for many miles through the ranchlands along the 3 roads that traversed the length of the valley. Each ranch house thus shared phone access with all their neighbors. The ringer on every phone on that line would ring whenever anyone got a call, so different ring patterns were assigned to each phone. This consisted of a series of rings similar to Morse code, long and short rings in a specific sequence, so that the right person would know to answer it.

In order to make a call, the only way to see if the line was open was to lift the receiver and listen. If someone was talking you would have to wait til the line was clear before making your call. But people could also pick up the phone and listen to conversations any time they felt like it, and that is what people mean when they refer to a “party line”. Everybody knew everybody else’s business. Most people were courteous and didn’t make a practice of snooping, but there were those few who just couldn’t resist. In fact, they could get devices to connect to the line that only had a speaker, no microphone, in order to listen surreptitiously. It was not unlike our life In the 80’s when our off-grid community used CB’s, which we considered “party lines” at the time.

We began this excursion into my cranial archives as a day trip, but the sun is setting now and there is still more of the 50’s left to peruse. So I have taken a room at Tillie’s boarding house on Main Street. It is in a large brick building above the general store and looks out across the street to Corrigan’s Bar, which is built entirely of river rocks with glass blocks for windows. But since I am only 9 years old I am more interested in the movie theater next door, currently showing one of my favorites, “When Worlds Collide”. So I will eat dinner here at the rooming house and then go to the show. We will finish our look at phones of old tomorrow. Sweet dreams, see you in the morning.


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