Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Monday, June 30, 2014

The Un-Party Party Line

See? Behind my dad? Entertainment in a box!
My brother recently blogged about the fun/mishaps of people ‘rubbering in’ on the party phone lines.
It’s here, and is great fun to read.
Go ahead. We’ll wait . . .
But the history of the party phone line wouldn’t be complete without the following story:
Still further west of the Stringam Ranch was a community known as Twin River.
It’s accepted social leader was Alfred Jones.
Successful farmer and all-round good guy.
One morning, Alfred received a phone call from a concerned and upset member of the neighbourhood.
She had been listening in on the party line and overheard the news that, “Bert Sibley had died.”
Now Bert had farmed in the area for many, many years. He and his wife had raised their children.
Sold the farm.
And retired to the nearby town of Magrath for some well-deserved rest.
As a stalwart of their community, his death was something of note.
The woman thought that, at the very least, friends and neighbours of the Sibleys should supply flowers at the soon-to-be-announced funeral.
Alfred agreed.
“In fact,” he said, “I’m heading to Lethbridge on business right now. I’ll stop in while I’m there, and order the flowers.”
The woman agreed and hung up.
Alfred started out.
The road from the Jones Ranch in Del Bonita, to Lethbridge, runs directly through the aforementioned Magrath.
As he reached the outskirts of the town, Alfred decided it would be proper for him to stop in and offer his condolences to the grieving widow.
He pulled up to the house and made his way to the front door.
While he was waiting for his knock to be answered, Alfred happened to glance into the front room through the large window.
There was Bert.
Lying on the couch.
Oh, my word! thought Alfred. They haven’t even taken the body away yet!
But that wasn’t his only shock of the day.
Just as the door opened, the ‘body’ sat up.
Alfred stared.
And gulped.
Then turned to Mrs. Sibley, standing in the doorway and stammered out something inane about stopping in to see how they were enjoying town life.
Etc.
Then got out of there.
Mrs. Sibley never knew how close she was to being offered flowers and condolences.
For a husband who was very much alive and sitting in the next room.
The good old party line.
Originator of all things informative. Mis-informative. 
And entertaining.
How can anything in this modern world compete with that?

9 comments:

  1. I totally miss the party line! Now we simply overhear others' cell conversations. Not the same thing at all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So true....with the party line you heard both sides of the conversation leaving nothing to the imagination (warped or otherwise)...cell phone conversations are all one sided to the 'listener in' providing fuel for fantasy. Personally, I could do without both.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I never experienced the party line, but my mother has some interesting stories to tell...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wonderful story! George's story was great, too. The unintended results of Alexander Graham Bell's amazing newfangled invention :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS We were on a party line, too - more about that in my comment on George's post.

      Delete
  5. I remember the party lines! Kids nowadays have no clue what we're talking about. Funny post as always!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, I remember those party lines well. This was a very fun story and I am smiling big on this one.
    Blessings for the smile~

    ReplyDelete
  7. That ol' party line could get you into lots of trouble, but at the same time, it was cheap entertainment...

    ReplyDelete

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