Long ago, just because something was invented did not mean everyone ran out and got one. It took years for people to become what we would think as modern. One thing I am learning with this study is that people did pretty good for themselves without the things we have today. The things we would see if we were there would look different but we might just find ourselves very happy.
The telephone came along and some could afford a phone and some could not and there were many other reasons to not have a telephone such as the telephone lines had not been pulled to that area.
Charles Great Grandfather worked for the telephone company while it was in it's very early stages. In the year 1900 he was living in Richland South Carolina and was a apprentist Machinest. We see in the 1910 census that he was boarding in a house in Christiansburg Virginia with the telephone company and as they pulled lines to different areas we would find him in a new census living in another town or state. While working in the Christiansburg Virginia area much was happening in that area. In 1900 the small town had a bank, a newspaper a depot and telephone service. These small towns with a depot were very important for those that farmed and had livestock as a means of transporting things bought and sold.
In 1900 there was a fire that destroyed several buildings which in that time would have been very bad. But the town continued on and the population increased. In 1918 U.S. 11 was added to the State highway system and by 1926 the last link of U.S. Route 11 was hard surfaced. It was the first interstate highway in America.
I am trying to give you a picture of the time. We see new things coming, roads to travel with cars instead of horse, wagon and buggies but those remained for many years as cars and horse and buggies still traveled together. The family wagon was a very important part of the American family moving their families and getting supplies.
In 1920 the family, including 4 children lived in Lexington, Rockbridge Virginia and by 1930 he was wire chief and was living in Kinston, Lenoir North Carolina.
As some of us watched Downton Abbey we saw the telegraph was one way of communication as well as the newspaper then the first electric light arrived which Lady Grantham shielded her eyes from the harsh light bulb. Then later the telephone arrived. The series of Downton Abbey shows us a good bit of history as they travel through time and many things are very accurate down to the lace and beaded cover that Daisy tosses over the pitcher as they now call them weighted or beaded milk jug covers.
People had to be taught how to use these new modern items.
The telephone shape changed and people had to change the way they talked into the phone. the Ads started the guilt ads I call them. There were many guilt ads in the past trying to get people to change.
This telephone above you could sit it on a telephone stand or some would hold the stand with the mouth piece in one hand and the ear piece in the other.
Though there was some frustration the telephone caught on but there were many people that did not so this is where I see that everything depends on where one lived, city or rural, income level. One could live still like they did in 1890 and it be 1920 or even 1930 and so on.
The telephone was used in many ways back then such as calling in the grocery order and also we will see in another post the telephone was quite valuable to business as often goods were delivered.
1929 the caption above this picture tells of Mrs. Marks staying with her switchboard warning people of a flood.
A switchboard operator was a very important person to a town because they did much more than connect lines. They were helpful in many ways as we will read in the last article.
The way the switchboard worked was someone would call the operator and give them the number to be called such as 124 and the operator would plug your line into the number you were calling and that would ring the other person. But operators back then were very helpful and personal and helped in many other ways.
When people moved into the 1920's and we hear the roaring 20's it was also the booming 20's as new inventions and incomes were good and people were investing and buying and life was getting good for many. Some people remained the same as they were years back and it was probably for the best because when the year 1929 came and went all that living above their means came tumbling down. It not only affected them it affected a lot of people because it was a chain reaction. The Great Depression.
Many people had to sell off things that they had purchased such as their cars, furniture and even disconnect from electric and telephone because they just did not have the money to pay the bills.
It is an odd thing to see the incomes and value of houses doing much better from 1900 to 1929 than we see from 1929 to a while after 1945 where times should have been getting more modern and pay should have been going up but it did not and the reason was a Great Depression followed by world war 2.
There were two declines between 1900 and 1929, an economic decline during 1918 and 1919 just as the world war 1 had ended, and the Spanish Flu Epidemic which took millions of lives globally . My Grandfather died in 1918 from this flu. My Grandmother caught it as well but survived. She was pregnant at the time carrying my father's brother. Another recession hit 1920 to 1921 in the U.S. when the global economy dropped sharply. Then the economic boom came which we know as the roaring 20's where life was swell! Until 1929 the great depression.
Telephone booths went through many changes, the one above being one of the earliest public telephones.
Many pictures are very faded as I traveled through time looking at the public telephones. There were telephone lobbies where you go in and there were private booths without the doors that you would sit into the booth. Then the telephone booth with the closing door came about.
The telephone lineman was very respected for their hard work and for moving the country forward with this new way of communication. The telephone and telegraph were expanding rapidly at this time.
I started moving outside my study years for this telephone study as I wanted to see the advancement to when the dial phone arrived.
This is the first new panel truck to be used for special cable splicing work in San Bernardino California.
In 1948 they were talking about party lines and how it was going to take cooperation among party line neighbors to make this work.
Now we are into 1952 with a picture of phone trucks ready to install 1900 phones.
The next three prints are about this photo above.
When we look at this we do not see a lot of changes from the operator in the 1929 photo other than the head set, the clothing and a few changes such as a bigger telephone board.
Below is a very telling story of this time of 1952 was starting to change, the choices of moving to the new dial telephone.
Now my memory takes us on through the 1950s as we changed to the dial phone with a three way party line. I cannot remember when the single line came about for us, after I married we did not have a telephone for many years because back then the young married folks started off light like their parents did and had to work up for things in the house.
We all know what has happened in the advancement of the Telephone and the decline of phone booths and the takeover of cellular phones and no telling what next.
I prefer the life of the one household phone that sits on the side table and there were no robo calls. Oh that was the day.