Things we no longer do, part two: Party lines

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 6/24/20

I don’t remember party lines very well. Mostly I remember my folks complaining about them. 

The phone would ring your special ring, some number and combination of long and short, and …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Things we no longer do, part two: Party lines

Posted

I don’t remember party lines very well. Mostly I remember my folks complaining about them. 

The phone would ring your special ring, some number and combination of long and short, and you’d pick up and start talking. Other people would pick up and start listening, especially if they knew there was something good on offer. It was probably the best way to learn the news around here. 

Unfortunately, other people learned your news as well, and they made sure everyone else knew it too. Uncle Bud said that he heard his own news multiple times as he wandered around Callicoon. His big worry was that his parents would learn it too, whatever it was. 

Leslie LaValley, in his book “The Basket Letters,” remembered the advent of party lines. If you wanted a phone, you had to put up with it. He tells about Lew Bovee from Fish’s Eddy, who liked to ring up a number, listen for five clicks as people down the line picked up, and then he’d yell, “Five suckers on the line!” Not that that stopped anybody.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment