Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Number, Please"

Your phone number, that is. Just like Richard Holstad reminded us the operator would ask when we picked up the receiver.

To help you out, Mike McQuarters ('59) sent along this 1954 Northwood phone book, albeit with a few pages missing. But you may find your number or a friend's number in here, and it's a lot of fun to look. Here are some that we found:

Helgeland, Kermit 6-F22
Holstad, Arleigh 73-W
Johnson, Lloyd 463-W12
Leidal, Curtis 457-J1
Vold, C O 404-W

We have no idea what those numbers represent, but seeing them may bring back some memories. To get to the full phone book plus some ads from the Anchor, click on this link.

We especially liked the hints for handling your phone, i.e., "training", included as Northwestern Bell Telephone Company ads:

"If your receiver is off the hook, your telephone is out of service!"
"For extra fast Long Distance Service, call by number!" In other words, don't waste the time of the operator by forcing them to look up your number for you.
"Wait at least one minute for your party to answer the phone so you can avoid a callback."

Amazingly enough, there are two ads for Typewriter Stores, both in Mason City. You sure don't see those anymore.


  1. Very interesting! I was on the Kensett line.

  2. Marilyn -- Now don't get too "Foxy" with this subject, but you know, you could give new meaning here to the term "Party Line".

    Plus, being on the "Kensett-Party Line" what a DOUBLE-HIGH status symbol!

    "Kensett Party Line" kind of has the ring of a busy signal to it, yes?

    After all, wasn't Kensett where all the good parties took place? Good parties means busy phone lines.

    I need reminding what the phone operator did when the line we were calling was busy ..... did the operator know that immediately?

    Oh ya, like the song says, "It Is All Coming Back To Me Now." If you really-really-really needed to get thru, you could ask the operator to break into an existing conversation for you.

    There were many good advantages to having the phone operator involved. Lets say someone wasn't answering your call .....a girl friend or boy friend for instance .... the phone would ring and ring. Pretty soon the operator would come back and ask if you wanted to try another number.

    My grandmother Thompson was a phone operator for awhile --- If the lines were busy, I would just say, operator (grandma) got any idea where the party(s)to which I am calling are being held this evening?

    There certainly were no other caller ID systems or automatic answering machines back then!


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