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Telephone and Party Lines
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Country Phone Party Lines in the Good old Days

 All of the phones in our rural community were the old wooden wall crank phones. They were most all similar in style with a hand crank ringer on the right side of the phone cabinet with two metal bells on the top front portion with a striker that struck one side to the other making a bell sound that sometimes woke the dead. The receiver
with an attached cord was on a cradle on the left side of the cabinet and when you lifted the black celluoid receiver from the cradle it set the phone in use. The end of the receiver screwed off like a jar lid with a loose listening device inside. The cabinet opened and you could see the phone  works inside. Some of the ornery boys used to dismantle an old phone and hook a wire to the  Magneta works, then have you grab their hand and crank the phone. It would really give a hearty shock .
I can still remember the phone #  we had from 1947 to the late 50's. It was 151-F47. We all had the wooden crank phones. The F47 was our line number. 151 was our personal number. The 1 stood for a short ring and the 5 was for a long ring,  so that made ours 1 short ring, the next a long one and the last another short ring.  Sometimes I would start for the phone and there would be another short ring on the end. It is surprising how many  3-4 combination numbers you can get from those The longest number you had here on the Byron line
was four numbers. We were on the same line as Mom and Dad Guffy and their number was 515.  Uncle Rufus and Aunt Merel's was 115 and the Gransbury's was 1151 The Cutrights, Cloyds, Browns, Stoabs, Parkers, another Gransbury,  and a few others were on our line too. We always had a bunch of eavesdroppers and it would cut the volumn down a lot. You soon learned by the way one would ring the phone was calling who. Aunt Merel would ring the longest ring for the short ring and a much longer ring for the long one. I wish I had kept an old phone book with the numbers.  For long distance you rang one long ring for the local operator ( Mrs.Maggie Deveney at Byron) and she connected you to the long distance operator and then on to another one until you
reached your #.  I also wish I had kept our old crank telephone too. After we got on our new line,  we had a 5 party line and the busiest line around as we had Coleta Hein who called her mom, Mary Greenwood at Byron often, Dorine Cutright who called her sister,  Neva Jean Loeser nearby a lot, and we used the phone a lot too. to Guffys. The  George Smiths and Audrey Nutter used the line  very seldom. . I was very happy to get a private line much later. I used to wonder why someone seemed to always know when we were on the line as you could hear the drain and a click when they picked up the receiver.  It was Cutrights. I knew it, but could not understand how they knew we were on the phone.  I found out later by a slip of the tongue that when someone called us, their phone made a sound. They sat near the phone most of the time and could hear it and eavesdropped on most of our conversations. I really hated that.  I was not one that cared about listening to phone calls and rarely ever listened in unless it was for the Guffys.We recently had our area code changed from 405 to 580 and I have had a time remembering to use the right one. How time changes things !

Lois Caywood Guffy
Byron Oklahoma.
THE GUFFY FAMILY WEB PAGE
cmark@socencom.net

The first time I saw or talked on a telephone was on a fire phone, on a tower on top of high knob in the head of cold water creek. martin co. Ky.  1940. It was the old magneto type. I got a job working for the phone co in 1952 and we still had about half of our phones was of the magneto type, then we went to the common battery type where you just picked up the receiver and the operator would ask what number please, that was the number you wanted to call. most of these two types of offices was located in the chief operators home.  If it was late  she would have to get out of bed to let people make a call. I went on to work 32 years for the phone co.

Herb Adams
herb@cybrtown.com
 

This is a story passed on to me in 1993 by my husband's Aunt, who is in her 80s
The most vivid memory of my grandmother Estep was a trip made to see her in 1929.  She had had a telephone installed.  One with a crank on the side. She would crank and crank on that thing but could never get it to work.  She would get so disgusted she would end up stepping out on the porch and yelling for who ever she wanted.  The hills would echo and with help from neighbors the word was passed on to the person she wanted to speak with!

Sharon McKenzie, Pleasant Hill, California
SMcKenzi@aol.com 

Our section of the county got telephone service in 1959.  The PARTY line kind of service, you could not get a private line, even if you were willing to pay for it!  Twelve families were on our line!  and it remained that way for several years.  In the early sixties, my husband was overseas, and I had come "home" with my daughter to wait for his return.  My parents and I were sitting outside, drinking iced tea, and looking down the holler!  One of the neighbor girs from down the holler came rushing up on her bicycle. "You better get those curlers out of your hair," she practically yelled at me.  I ask, "for what?"  "Roy is on the way home, you didn't answer your ring, and we knew you were waiting for his call, so my Mom answered the phone for you!"  I couldn't decide whether I should be mad for their nosiness or glad that he was on his way home!

maynard.c.e@att.net
Our Appalachian Roots