The Local ‘Gabblers’ on the Party Lines! 1950s

The Local ‘Gabblers’ on the Party Lines! 1950s

The second photo (also found at almonte .com) is labelled as the “Telephone Central Office”. Switchboards were still in use in the 40s. Where was this office located? In that Mill Street space? The second photo may be older than the first, and the office was relocated to Mill Street later? The windows are hard to place in the second photo, but perhaps the building was rebuilt since then… Anyone have other details? Can confirm locations of the “central office”?The two women in the second photo are switchboard operators – manually connecting calls with cord pairs. If you zoom in, you can see these cords quite clearly #Almonte#EarlyTelecommunications#HelloOperatorDowntown AlmonteUnexpected Almonte

Almonte Gazette- 1951

District complaints have come, recently, regarding the shortening of telephone circuits as carried out by the Bell Company. Before the Bell took over the Lanark & Carleton Counties Telephone Co., these circuits were quite large in most instances and it was possible for a person on one of them to call a great many more patrons, without going through the central exchange board, here, than is now the case. Those who do not like the breaking up of these large—sociable— loops, say the Bell Co. is going right on with its policy and they complain, as stated above, that where they used to be able to call a friend many miles distant without ringing central, they must now go through the local exchange.

The only argument they use against this is that it causes them some inconvenience, and, for good measure they criticize the service given at the central switchboard here. Most reasonable people admit there are some very good operators in Almonte—and to put it delicately—some who are not so good. But even the operators who are accused of being a little slow or careless do not create half as much inconvenience as the gabblers on the rural lines. They are the real nuisances and their long visits may be discouraged by shortening the circuits so they will have to go through central to get a connection. If they camp on the line too long and someone else wants it for an important message, the local operator will have a definite knowledge of who is doing the visiting.

This photo is interesting not just because of the snowstorm & the two good-natured gents, one with a broom, sweeping the snow. Also in this picture is a hanging sign that states “Business Office” and has the old/original Bell Canada bell logo on it. This photo is from 1947.–Unexpected Almonte

Complaints are heard from many sections about well known bores on the rural lines. There are mammas who call up their daughters every morning and talk for half-an-hour on any subject from the best method of emptying a certain bedroom utensil to what subject is going to be discussed at the next meeting of the Ladies’ Aid. There are, also, the problems of pickles, preserves, picking apples, the state of the barn yard, the state of the garden, the state of the neighborhood, the state of the township and the state of the nation. There is the question of quilting quilts and many other topics too numerous to mention.

The gripe that many rural people have about these gossips is that they monopolize the lines and make them useless for the transmission of sensible messages or transaction of business. One method of getting these magnetic talking machines off the line used by quick tempered men is to damn whoever is holding up that line—damn her with great big words of disapprobation. If the adjectives are hot enough the receivers click up and a startled voice generally gasps: “Well, I never! How ignorant can some folks be?”

The people who camp on the rural lines generally make a habit of it, do it around the same time, and are well known to the exasperated neighbors and more distant patrons who would like to get a word in edgeways. As stated before, the shortening of the rural circuits by the Bell Co. may be a blessing in disguise because these people who have nothing to do but monopolize the service with their silly chatter will not have the face to go through central, every morning or afternoon, and keep everybody from using the line for the next hour or so.

In the above it is admitted that most of those who are opposed to shortening of telephone circuits are not influenced by the desire to monopolize the lines. They simply feel it is an inconvenience to call central in town to get someone whom they used to call on the longer circuit by giving a signal on their own phone. But, as pointed out to these and other people, the policy of the Bell may in the end have its compensations. It has on other rural systems because- people who use them have attested to th at fact. One real cause for complaint though, is the constant changing of rural numbers of people paying for business telephones.

Karen Dorman sent this photo in..The top photo is the girls at the Bell telephone circa 1953. Starting with the far left standing are Audrey MacDougall, Joan McKim Whalen, Thelma Dowdall, Louise Kerr, Margaret Kingston Billings, Shirley Nesbitt Sadler, Janet Arbuckle, ?(chief operator), Helen Smith, At switchboard Joyce Stanzel Saunders, Joan Ferguson, Velma Bryce, Rose McKittrick Seated Norma McKim, Phylis MacPherson, ? HorrickNumber Please? Carleton Place



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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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