Depression Era: Private Line to Grandma

Colorado woman recalls the telephone on her farm as a child, which was wired as a private line to her grandma's house.

| Good Old Days

The telephone of my childhood in the depression era was mounted on the dining room wall of our farmhouse. By today's standards it would be considered an antique. Encased in a rectangular shaped lacquered box, it appeared almost life-like with its two round bells for eyes and a long adjustable snout that became the mouthpiece. Below that was a small hinged shelf.

It was the exact replica of the ones in the homes along the party line. There was one big difference, ours was a private line!

It was so private that no one could call us except Grandma. Because she lived alone, Dad knew it would give her a sense of security to be able to contact us whenever she wished.

Since we were a mile away from the community telephone line, Dad ran a wire from our house to the barbed wire fence that formed the boundaries of our land and joined that of the home place where Grandma lived. On the other end he ran a wire into Grandma's house and attached it to her phone.

Grandma was on the party line so Dad installed a lever-switch. When the lever was up on her phone she was attached to the party line. When the lever was pulled down her phone was connected to the barbed wire line. Grandma kept in close contact, often relaying messages that she received for us. If we needed something that required the use of the outside line, Grandma placed the call for us. It wasn't as convenient 'as present day private lines, but served the purpose for which it was intended.

Juanita Urbach
Brush, Colorado

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