telephone memories

Linc Reed-Nickerson
Mon Nov 8 14:48:04 EST 2010

When we moved from Maynard to Acton in December 1952 (just after the Wilson School in Maynard burned), Acton had just converted to dial.  But in Maynard it was still "Number Please" and our number was 1061-R, our neighbor was 1097-J.  In Acton, now dial, may maternal grandparents were 5540 and my paternal grandparents were 5504.  My dada had to ask my mom every time, oh 4 or 4 oh.  Our exchange was Colonial 3, or CO3, which made for lots of problems with people dialing C0 rather than CO when you had to dial all 7 from neighboring towns or parts of Acton that had Maynard numbers.

Does anyone remember the beginning of "Direct Distance Dialing?"  "First you dial the magic one one then two letters, five figures as you've always done."

And how could forget "How Many Cookies did Andrew eat, Andrew eat eight thousand, what number do you call to get you rugs clean?  Call Andrew 8-8000."

And the few years when the phone company tried the eliminate letters on the touch tone pads?  If they had been successful we might not have text messaging.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Doug Drown
Sent: Sunday, November 07, 2010 3:19 PM
To: =?utf-8?b??=; Donna Halper; Dave Doherty
Subject: Re: telephone memories

I don't go back as far as the days of crank phones, but I do remember 
our dialless wall phone, whose receiver we would pick up, click the 
cradle once or twice, and get "Central."  Dial phones came to 
Ashburnham around 1962, IIRC.  TAlbot was our prefix.  DIamond was 
Fitchburg.   I think KEystone was Athol.  Gardner, oddly, was the last 
community around to get dial phones --- it wasn't until 1965 or '66 or 
thereabouts, thus the city never had an alphabetized prefix.  It's 
always been 632. 

I remember party lines very well.  When I was in seminary in Bangor in 
the '70s, my landlady was still part of a party line that she joined in 
1929.  Gradually, one by one, the other parties withdrew and sought 
private lines.  She wound up still paying a much less expensive rate 
for a party line, even though she was, by then, the only person on it.  
That's what you call Beating the System. 

An acquaintance of mine was the head attorney for NET&T, and was the 
person whom AT&T hired to work out the breakup of the company in the 
late '70s.  His own son has never quite forgiven him for it, nor, I 
think, has anyone else.  Life was MUCH simpler when Ma Bell ran the 
whole shebang, even if it was a monopoly. 

And yes, I still have home phones, including a dear, old, heavy, 
early-'60s dial phone that has been in the bedroom since the day it was 
installed.  I love it. 


Quoting Dave Doherty <>:
> Nice article, Donna. Thanks for passing it along. 
> I wonder how many of us remember party lines?
> After he retired, my grandfather lived in New Hampton, NH. He was on an
> eight-party line. 
> You could always tell who got a call by the ring pattern - a sequence of
> short and/or long rings. His ring was three shorts. One neighbor was a long
> and two shorts, another was two shorts and a long, and so on. 
> It was not unusual to pick up the phone and hear somebody else using the
> line, because you generally did not get an indication when another party was
> dialing out. But if you sat right next to the phone, sometimes you could
> hear the clapper moving with another party's dialing pulses. 
> It was all magical, back in the day. 
> -d
> >

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