Two longs and one short. One short and one long.
These were my parent’s phone numbers back in the 1940’s and 50’s. They both lived in rural Wisconsin and were on party lines. Back then several houses would be connected by one phone wire. Each house was given a different ring for their crank phones. When you heard your particular ring you knew to pick up the phone because someone was trying to reach you.
The disadvantage to this system is that everyone on your circuit could listen in on your conversations.
The advantage to this system is that you could listen in on everyone’s conversations!
I love when my Dad tells me the story about his mom (my Grandma) and the party line.
You see, my grandma was a sweet, soft-spoken lady. She was a farmer’s wife living in a house with no running water and no television. She worked hard raising her four children, tending to the garden and taking care of the chickens. She couldn’t drive a car. The one time my Grandpa did try to teach her, things didn’t go so well, so she refused to try again. Therefore, she only made it into town every few weeks when my Grandpa drove her.
My Dad tells me that many times he would walk into the kitchen and there would be Grandma with the phone to her ear. She would be perched on her chair sitting still as a mouse and listening intently. She would shoot my Dad the “look” and put her finger to her lips to ensure his silence. My Dad knew the drill and would mosey on his way.
I had never heard about this until she passed away some years back. The thought of my dear old Grandma Freda eavesdropping just puts me in stitches. The grandma I remember was always full of news. She would update us on everyone in the family and tell us the goings on in the town. She wasn’t a gossip…just an informer of all the important tidbits!
I think back to that woman who was around the age I am now, listening in on the party line. In all likelihood I may have very well done the same thing.
In a way, I do listen in on the party line. In a way, we all listen in on the party line.
I think it’s human nature to want to know what other people are doing and how they are. It’s interesting to see how other people live. It’s nice to have connections with others and to learn from other people’s experiences.
If this wasn’t true then Facebook, Twitter and blogging wouldn’t be so popular.
Our whole life is submerged into one big party line. The only difference nowadays is you can hit a “like” button or leave a comment and let the person know you’ve been by to catch up on all the juicy news! There is no need to sit in silence or shush the children!