Heart of the Home: Family Shared Telephone Party Line With Disrespectful Teenager

A reader talks about how her family shared a telephone party line with three other families, and how one disrespectful teenager annoyed them and made them happy to finally get a private line.

| Spring 2018

  • heart windows
    Home is where the heart is.
    Photo by Busse Yankushev

  • heart windows

How well I remember the four-party phone line we had back in the early 1970s.

Most of our neighbors were polite and considerate of the party line. However, there was one disrespectful teenager, probably in junior high at the time, who was not. Frequently, whenever we would pick up the receiver to make a telephone call, he would be on it and immediately — and literally — scream "GET OFF THE PHONE!"

He also liked to play the trumpet on the phone for long periods of time. My ears still hurt just thinking about those unearthly screeches. Al Hirt he was not.

I don't know whatever happened to "trumpet boy," but I'd like to think he kept practicing, though not while on the phone, and that he improved.

Our family was sure happy when the party line finally dissolved and we got our own private line. Our ears were thankful, too.

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