Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Have I Reached the Party to Whom I'm Speaking?


Call me!
My Dad is the last surviving member of a family of thirteen, the youngest of eleven children.
He has been reminiscing . . .

One of Dad’s elder brothers, Alonzo (hereinafter known as Uncle Lonnie), became a wealthy man by the simple practices of thrift, caution and wise investment.
Besides being brothers, he and Dad were good friends and often ranched together.
Which necessitated good communication.
Living fifty miles apart, this meant telephoning.
I should explain here that, in the late sixties, phone plans had not yet been invented.
You had two options.
You dialled a number directly and paid.
Or, if you weren't certain that the person you wanted was home, you could dial ‘person-to-person’ and have an operator facilitate the call. This was more expensive if your party was there, but cost you nothing if they weren't.
Understand?
Moving on . . .
Uncle Lonnie, he of the sound mind and thrifty practices, needed to talk to Dad.
But it was the middle of the day, a time when phone calls were at their most expensive. Uncertain if he would find Dad at home, he opted to have an operator place the call.
Dad answered the phone. The call went something like this . . .
Dad: “Hello?”
Operator: “I have a person-to-person call for Dr. Mark Stringam.”
Dad: “This is Dr. Stringam.”
Operator: “Go ahead, sir!”
Uncle Lonnie: “If I’d known you were actually there, I’d have dialled directly!”
Dad: “Well, I'm here!” And he hung up the phone.

22 comments:

  1. That's funny because my niece (my summer time assistant) must be the only ones on Earth who still pays for long distance so whenever she wants to talk to me she calls me and then hangs up. This is my cue to call her back! Remember party lines those were so fun! I remember accidently finding out the girl next door was pregnant at 16 I thought my mom's hair would curl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Party lines were our only form of entertainment growing up. Heard a lot of things. Never heard anyone was pregnant, though . . . Darn!

      Delete
  2. Oh gosh, I remember these days from when I was little and we spent our summers at a little farm house in White Hall, Montana. Do you remember when you didn't even have to dial a full phone number---just the last four digits? The world was much smaller then!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. White Hall!? There was a lovely little cheese factory in White Hall, Montana. We always stopped there on the way south. Great cheese. Is it still there? P.S. - I don't ever remember using a phone in White Hall, I was too busy eating the cheese.

      Diane's Anonymous Connaisseur-de-fromage Husby-Figure

      Delete
    2. I do remember the four digit dialling. Sigh. But I missed out on the cheese. Someone's Husby is lax in his duties . . .

      Delete
  3. We were just talking about dial phones and operator assisted calls yesterday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is it they say about great minds, Carol? :)

      Delete
  4. After a visit with Mom and Dad and a long drive home we would dial their number, let it ring twice and hang up. They then knew we were home and could go to bed with no worries. It's still cheaper to call after 6:00pm and on weekends but we no longer have anyone long distance to call. sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the little tricks we all resorted to to avoid the horrendous phone costs!

      Delete
  5. I remember back in the day when we had long distance service and my grandmother, who lived a half an hour away, didn't. When she wanted to talk to us, she'd call and let the phone ring twice then hang up. That meant we were supposed to call her back. Which I did. Mostly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mostly. I like your little qualifier! :)

      Delete
  6. My how communication has changed! Another great post Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It used to be fun.Now that we have myriad ways to communicate, no one wants to do it any more. Weird.

      Delete
  7. And did you ever do this: place a collect call to your parents so they'd know you made it back to university, and have them not accept the charges - because they knew you were safe?

    Well, no, neither did I, but I heard of it being done. I always actually talked to my folks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I just called. Spoke really fast. And hung up. Really, really fast.

      Delete
  8. Great story! I remember making collect calls to my parents from a rotary phone at my dorm in college - it took forever to get it right, and then half the time they weren't even home to accept the charges!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I remember those days well. I remember party lines and wishing people would hang up so I could call my friends, and I remember my father secretly installing a phone that he hid in the basement so he could listen to all of our calls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sneaky, sneaky father. I'm glad my dad didn't think of that! :)

      Delete
  10. I remember the party lines. Grandma warned me, "Don't say much -- people are listening!"

    As for person-to-person, how many times did my dad call someone asking for "Bob" when "Bob" was code for something else?! No, Bob wasn't home! There was no Bob! But the message was heard...

    Such a clever people we were then!

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am in awe of our cleverness. (Why didn't it spill over onto anything else?!)
      :)

      Delete
  11. I sure do remember that; I was there, and witnessed it just the way you told it, except that you didn't mention anything about when Uncle Lonnie phoned him right back. I can't really repeat them on this family-type blog but I will say that there was reference to an illegitimate child.

    ReplyDelete

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