Thursday, May 1, 2008

Party Line

Everybody already knows I'm so old I fart dust but I discovered today at work that I am one of the very few (yes, my age) who remember a party line telephone. We didn't live out in the country but with only 500 people it was just barely a town and we did have party lines for a few years. This was the early 50's and the phone was a wooden box on the wall with a crank on the side of the box that you turned until Central answered at the phone office. In our case Central was Helen Madden and you would tell Helen who you were calling. Helen would not only connect you to whoever you wanted to talk to but she would also stay on the line and sometimes even join in the conversation. It was considered polite to not make any phone calls unless it was an extreme emergency after 8 PM because Helen went to bed early and if you woke her up she would answer with, "This had better be an emergency" instead of her usual, "Central, how may I help you?" Yep, ole Helen made it pretty clear that you better get your visiting over with before 8 PM. I remember one Friday night my grandparents were having company for supper followed by a big euchre game. Poppy called home to tell Grandma he would be late for supper. They hung up and Grandma rang central to call the people who were coming for dinner. Well...Helen told her that wasn't necessary because she had already called them when she heard Poppy tell Grandma that he was going to be late. My Grandma didn't get mad very often but she was HOT that night. To make matters even worse the telephone office (and living quarters) were above my Poppy's IGA store so Helen never felt like she was butting in....she was just relaying information. Relaying information....hmmm, don't think that's what my Grandma called it that night. Anyway, I miss my Grandma and Poppy and I even miss Helen ....but you can keep the party line in the past.


ga.farmgirl said...

I must be old enough to expell..hmm dust too. lol...because I remember the party lines also. We had one in the early 60's and each one on our party had a special ring, like one long and one short or in our case 2 short rings. Sometimes in was hard to tell which ring was which and you can bet some folks knew everybody else's business.
I had almost forgotten about those party lines.
Good story for an old duster.
Have a good weekend!

Jan said...

I had forgotten about the long and short rings. A friend of mine still has the old wall phone from her Grandma's house and I wish I had been wise enough to keep ours!