Drama, Romance, Intrigue...

Love. Early American Style.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Now here's a flashback...

I grew up in the country, born in 1970 (yeah, not afraid to tell my age!) and lived with what we called "party lines".

For those who were fortunate to have your own telephone line, this should give you a good chuckle.

We had our own phone number, but had to share the telephone line with a few other neighbors. Hard to imagine in this age of multiple phone lines/numbers per household, and even folks giving up their "landlines" for using their cell phones exclusively.

We shared our party line with our next door neighbor, Mrs. Raub. She was a sweet old lady who lived next door, and loved to chat with our other neighbor, Mrs. Conrad. Sometimes, they would chat for hours on end, not talking about much, but basically passing the time. They lived next door to each other too, but remember, next door where we live is a field away.

We could always tell when Mrs. Raub would get a call, and I guess she could tell when we got a call too. Faintly, you could hear her phone ringing without even picking up our phone and listening.

Just imagine this.....I was teen in the 80's, and we still had party lines, still shared with sweet Mrs. Raub. I had a boyfriend (or two, maybe three) during that time, and it drove this teen crazy just knowing that the love of my life (for the moment) may be trying to call me, but Mrs. Raub was chatting with Mrs. Conrad next door, talking about what they were making for dinner, or who had been visiting whom, or goodness knows what else. Couldn't they hear me picking up and sighing loudly into the phone every five minutes, trying to get the hint across that they should wrap it up! Desperation would set in, I would beg my mother to pick up the phone and try to reason with these little old ladies that my social life was depending on their ending their conversation about laundry!

*sigh* Party lines. What would kids these days think of that?

Now some of our neighbors had it worse off yet! The farm over the hill and through the woods behind us would share the same line with their neighbors, but it rang into everyone's house that shared the line....this included the barn phone too! So if you wanted to call Phil, you would dial the number, and the phone would ring into Phil's house, the neighbors farmhouse and the barn too. How do you know to pick up if it's for you? Phil's may have been several quick and short rings in a row, so the barn and the farmhouse knew not to pick up, it was for Phil. The barn phone may have been long rings, so the farmhouse and Phil knew it was not for them, and so on and so on.

Yeah, we've come a long way baby!

Oh, and we didn't have cable in our house until 1993. That was only about two months before I moved out. Yep, all those years with rabbit ears and an antennae just to get a few fuzzy local channels, then the cable company decided we were worthy of cable, and it was time for me to move out. Figures!

Feel free to share this story with your kids when they complain about their cell phone service, and remember to tell them about walking 2 miles to school, all uphill, both ways, in the snow!

Many blessings,
Mary Jo


Sandy said...

Oh boys...do I ever remember those phone lines. Back then everyone knew everyone's business because they all would listen in on the phone line. My grandmother had to share her's with her FIL and next door neighbor. And trust me they all loved to gossip. You also had to listen to which ring was yours. And I remember the TV, we had chanel 3,6,8 & 13 AND you had to get UP to change the stations...LOL. Boy time sure has changed...

Mary Jo said...

Sandy, I know all about getting up to change the channel....being the baby, I WAS the remote control! And Dad used to go outside to rotate the antennae and we would bang on the wall when the picture was clear! Ah, the good ol' days!

Tomatoe Creek Prims said...

Yes, we had a party line too and I remember my dad outside turning the antenna and us yelling that it was okay to stop we could see the picture.LOL I also remember him plugging in the Christmas tree lights and sparks flying from the socket.LOL Kids...though don't know what they have missed!

The Farmers Oldest Daughter said...

Oh do I remember party lines. We had 6 on our line and everyone had a certain ring. We all knew when others had a phone call. The only thing about us was that one of my grandmother's refused to speak english, she only spoke German. So when she and my mother would talk on the phone, you could hear everyone hang up because they didn't know what they were say.

We never had cable at our house, only a large antenna. We lived so far out in the country that we couldn't get much reception on anything.

Maybe we should go back to some of those times and some things would change (ha! ha!)

Great post. Brings back memories.