No party lines or operators; phones have changed

Published 4:22 pm Monday, April 17, 2023

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With the overwhelming popularity of cell phones in America today it is not hard to believe that 99% of high school graduates this year have never used a rotary phone.  That means only one percent have, which brings back memories for me. You cannot walk into a school today that a student does not have a cell phone.  Hard to believe a student takes a test without using the cell phone to get his answers for the test.  I can remember when there were operators that you gave a number to and the use of a party line.  There was also volunteer fireman alarms that a fireman could tell where the fire was located and my dad was a volunteer fireman, so of course we had that also.

The party line was the most aggravating part of the telephone, especially if you wanted to call your girlfriend on school night.  You would pull the rotary phone into your room and call her up only to get someone on the party line.  You would have to wait till they finished their conversation so you could call her, and then you would have to make sure they were not listening in on your call.  Remember the day they did away with the party lines?

I can remember when you picked up the phone and the operator would say, “Give me your number please”.  That was not as bad as the party line.  Mary was my operator and you had to address her as Mary, and give her the number you wanted to call and then she would connect you to your party.  You had to have your number ready or she would hang up on you.  There was a phone book under the black rotary phone, which had the names alphabetized for you with the numbers and addresses beside each person’s name.

My dad was a volunteer fireman and he used to get the location of fires through the phone and it was always late at night when the phone would ring.  I could never go with him because he was afraid for me to tag along so I would listen to fire whistle outside to tell where the fire was.  There were times that the fire whistle could fool me and if dad came home quickly because it was a false alarm.

Let me give Geraldine Boyd McKinley congratulations.  Gerri, as she is called today, is a classmate of mine and she has done real well in the real estate business.  She has garnered a number of Million Dollar Sales and her real estate company is always is one of the tops in Beaufort County. Congratulations Geraldine!

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The Original Washington!

Harold Jr.