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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

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We were getting a phone…a real phone, one that you could talk and listen to a person…all the way from The Bottom to Louisa…wow! A real phone. I’m talking about a modern phone…one that was made of hard plastic and sat on a table. Our new phone would have a place to talk and hear in one piece…not like the old models that hung on the wall…but still had a small box mounted to the wall with a crank on it.

The wall model phones were made of wood and had an earpiece that was held by one hand and a mouthpiece that was mounted on the front of the phone and adjusted up and down so a person could talk into it…to make a call…you had to lift the ear piece and rapidly turn a hand crank a couple of times…repeating several times…until an operator answered, modern for it’s time…

My Dad was the Louisa Chief of Police in the late 40s – early 50s so it was essential that he had a phone so those in need in Louisa could contact him or his Deputy, Julius York…who was also getting a new phone.

On the appointed day…the phone man came… I remember his green truck with the picture of a bell on the doors. The bed of the truck had lots of doors on it and t place to put ladders on…rolls of wire and various other things that I had no idea of what they really were…but as a kid…my mind told me what every thing was used for.

He pulled out a brace and a long drill  and started drilling a hole into the side of the house…and wasn’t getting in trouble with Mom like I would…if I drilled a hole in the side of the house…then he ran a plastic covered wire through the hole and anchored it inside of a silver box. He did some additional work in the house and finally hooked up the phone. Can I make a call…I asked…"not yet", he replied…"I still have to hook it up"…I’m thinking…what did he just do?

Outside again, I was asking what he was going to do now…"climb the pole" he says. Now how was he going to do that? The pole had nothing to hold onto while climbing. Then, he took some strange looking things out of the truck and started strapping them on his legs. The things were long pieces of metal with a “U” type bend at the bottom, fitting under his boots. On the inside of the bend was a sharp spur looking thing…now what were they used for? I soon found out!

My Dad was the Louisa Chief of Police in the late 40s – early 50s so it was essential that he had a phone so those in need in Louisa could contact him or his Deputy, Julius York…who was also getting a new phone.XXAt the pole, he grabbed hold of the pole and with his leg and foot he drove the spur into the pole and then did the same thing with the other leg…. soon he was at the top of the pole…threw a leather belt thing around the pole, hooked it onto his tool belt and sat back on it. Well, I’ll be danged what will they think of next? In short order he was back down on the ground.

Back inside the house it was time to test the new phone and after some testing he called Mom in to show her how it worked. After explaining how to work the phone he told us that our number was 261-X and that our “ring” was two “longs” and one “short.” To get the Operator we had to turn the crank twice…and to make calls to other phones on our line you just cranked the number of longs and shorts required. I mentioned...phones on our line… In those days…they were called “Party” lines. Usually 4 families on the same line...that was nice, but also a problem. When one of the party line families was on the phone…calls could not be made nor received…and you could listen in on other folks conversations…hear some good gossip…if you wanted to…

When the phone man completed, Mom made a long distance phone call to Columbus, Ohio…at the phone company’s expense…as was the custom when getting a new phone.

The next purchase Mom made was a “Gossip” bench…a half table, half chair thing…a place to set the phone and for the caller to sit while gossiping on the phone and a place to put the phone directory.

A few years later….'55-'56 Louisa was chosen to get the latest technology in phone service…one which only the phone called would ring…out went the old crank phones, the two longs and short ring…in came the new “Dial” phones with a new number…Medford 8-4788 (Medford was Louisa, and Newton was for Fort Gay)… I also remember the many sweet, boy-girl talks that took place on the new dial phone…..wonder who has that number now.

No matter what new technologies come along, they will never replace the excitement that came with the first phone we got. I will never forget that first number…261-X… two longs and one short rings….

I can be contacted at the below addresses, and your comments are solicited and welcomed in the space at the bottom of this page…

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