Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Party Line Conversations

When I was growing up, a visit to my Grandma Risley's meant more than just a doting grandmother, it was my Aunt Joy's house and there were cousins to play with. I loved going there, there were chickens to feed and a horse to ride. It was as close to perfect as I could imagine since I was a city kid. Since Grandma lived with them, that meant there were two Moms and she watched my cousins and I like a hawk! Sometime during the day though, my Aunt would be busy and Grandma would be napping/knitting in her rocking chair. It was the perfect opportunity to get on the phone that set on the little telephone table in the kitchen and listen to the party line. Party lines in the South were a way for rural customers to have service, the phone companies would have several customers on one trunk line and you would practice your best telephone manners by taking turns. That worked fine if you didn't have any long winded neighbors, have you ever known a Southerner that could say things fast? I didn't think so.

We would oh so carefully pick up the phone and with hands over our mouths to keep the giggles in, listen to the secret conversations of  Mrs. Cochran and the Villines' who lived across the road. It was exciting to be doing something and getting away with it, didn't matter that they were discussing the weather or what was coming up in the garden! We'd do this for as long as we thought the coast was clear, then as softly as 3 giggling kids can, hang up the phone and run outside laughing at the top of our lungs! It felt naughty and we got away with it most of the time!

What's the sneakiest thing you ever did as a kid... did you get caught?

12 comments:

  1. I think this means we are "old!" I had these same wonderful times at our Grandmother's in Ohio. Playing with cousins and taking moments when Grandmother was napping to listen on the party line. We even knew the name of the operator and oh, my, the conversations were delicious....aren't we lucky to have experienced those fun times!!!

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    1. That is amazing that you had the same experiences Betsy! It was delicious, and those memories are forever in my heart. It's harder now for cousins to develop close relationships, distance makes the difference :(

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  2. Well, I have to admit that I do not remember party lines, so I was unable to partake in such fun antics. I did, however, sneak into the pantry one day and eat a bar of chocolate that my mother kept telling me NOT to eat. The problem was, that the bar of chocolate was BAKER'S chocolate. I half-remember her telling me that it wasn't good to eat, but what kid would believe THAT story....come on Mom, it's CHOCOLATE, how can it be bad??? I remember thinking that Mom did something to it to make it taste bad.
    Learned my lesson.

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    1. That's funny, baking chocolate is so bitter! Mom always kept chocolate chips in the pantry and my brother would snitch from the bag until it was all gone! She would be so mad at him!!

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  3. OMG, we had a partyline when I was growing up. I used to put the dish towel over the mouth piece, and listen!!! Oh what fun, especially if it was the neighbor gal talking to her boyfriend!! Thanks for the memories!!

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  4. We were so poor we didn't even have a telephone for a long time!

    My daughter, Summer, did a sneaky thing when she was a little girl. I made 5 punds of fudge for Christmas one year and kept it stored in a tin in the pantry. The recipe said it would keep for 2 weeks. Little did I know that Summer got up every night and had a fudge snack IN THE DARK so we wouldn't know. You can imagine the look on her face when I brought out the tin to put some squares on a serving tray for a Christmas Tea only to discover the tin was filled with mold covered fudge!! And Summer had been snacking on it in the wee hours of that very day!! We still laugh about that!!

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    1. Oh my, that is the worst! I guess mold doesn't kill you, I know I'e toasted bread and then realize the next day it has mold on the edges!

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  5. I remember Grandma's old wooden crank phone,a huge thing that hung on the wall. There were no numbers; each family just had rings,like 2 longs and a short or a short and a long. You cranked these rings with a handle on the side of the phone. Everyone knew each others rings and most times they would come to the phone and often just join in for a 'conference'call. Everyone knew everyone else's business and no one cared.

    Of course we kids never did it.

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    1. Mom used to talk about their phone ringing like that, and boy are you right about everyone knowing everyone else's business! That's the way it still is in Lead Hill!

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  6. I enjoyed your party line story! I never liked our party line phone. We had several listeners of a "different kind" than you and your cousins. We were so glad when we were able to get a private line! I think the "worst" thing my friends and I did was almost catching some boys in our school grade (3rd) skinny dipping. We didn't catch them but they thought we did and chased us on bikes all the way back into town. I guess I led a sheltered life if that is the sneakiest thing I can remember? Of course, I grew up in a small town (about 1,000) and I was "kin" to at least 80% of the people there. You can't get by with anything under those circumstances!

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    1. We did lead a pretty sheltered life, the phone thing felt very naughty to me! I my Aunt Joy or Grandma would have caught us, they would have snatched us bald headed!!

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