The fulcrum of the phone call

  • Article by: MICHAEL NESSET
  • Updated: October 5, 2013 - 5:18 PM

There was a time when every call went through an intermediary. And yes, people did listen in. Those were good days.

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rlwr51Oct. 5, 13 5:07 PM

You actually had phone numbers. My grandma's ring was "a long and two shorts" and everyone could hear the ring and would only answer if it was their ring or the ring of someone you wanted to eaves drop on.

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braxozOct. 5, 13 5:46 PM

Good memories of days long gone.

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pumiceOct. 5, 13 6:42 PM

Party lines, rubbering, assigned rings, the short tether, shouting to be heard long distance. The rarity of a phone call. This article made me smile.

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braxozOct. 5, 13 6:57 PM

pumice Oct. 5, 13 6:42 PM Party lines, rubbering, assigned rings, the short tether, shouting to be heard long distance. The rarity of a phone call. This article made me smile.________ Don't forget the expense! Calling person to person etc. Common ploy for college kids to let the parents know they arrived safely was to call person to person asking for an agreed upon code name -parents would say that person wasn't available - so no charge.

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Kathy_BrandtOct. 5, 13 7:42 PM

When I worked as a nursing home chaplain, a number of residents in the facility where I worked had been telephone operators. I loved hearing their stories of their times as "communications central" for their communities. I remember one lady telling me that her most memorable call was when someone from her town wanted to call someone in California, and she said it was so interesting hearing the operators answering all across the country until the call was completed.

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orpheus90Oct. 5, 13 8:21 PM

Mr Nesset has a gift for making nostalgia seductive. The piece, describing a time when the technology was as local as your neighbors, beams with a Norman Rockwell halo. I doubt anyone will ever have golden reminiscences about dealing with a Verizon representative. I still recall, but not fondly, the day it took seven calls to get the billing corrected.

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owatonnabillOct. 5, 1310:06 PM

Memories of days long gone! Owatonnabill remembers those old wooden wall-hanging telephones with the trumpet mouthpiece. We started out as a member of an eight-party line (our ring was two shorts) and everyone on the line could hear whenever anyone else was called. Lois was a notorious eavesdropper so we'd tailor our conversations accordingly. Long distance (anything beyond, say, a five-mile radius) was handled by Audrey, who sat for eight hours a day inside a concrete block building maybe a mile or so from owatonnabill's abode. Looked like a bomb shelter. Eight to five was long-distance calling time with no calls over the lunch hour (weekends you were SOL), but Audrey was fun to talk to and now and again we teenaged guys of the community would stop by Audrey's bunker just to say hi. It was a sad day when we actually got dial phones!

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bizsmithOct. 6, 13 7:09 AM

I remember the days when so many people listened in, the signal got so weak nobody could hear.

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stplooklistnOct. 6, 1312:50 PM

Probably more phone calls are overheard today, at least one end, because everyone is yacking on cell phones. Only good thing about texting is not having to listen to those anymore.

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braxozOct. 6, 1310:26 PM

stplooklistn Oct. 6, 13 12:50 PM Probably more phone calls are overheard today, at least one end, because everyone is yacking on cell phones. Only good thing about texting is not having to listen to those anymore._______ and don't forget the NSA.

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