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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: On the Telephone (11/18/10)

TITLE: Telephone Evolution
By Ramona Cook


I don’t recall the days of the horse and buggy. But I do know life without a telephone. My childhood was lived in the high mountains of West Virginia. Getting supplies into those mountains was a task, add to that the problem of running telephone wire through the thick growth of trees and it becomes evident that availability to a telephone in my community was certainly unlikely.

We had no stores. The furniture stores sent salesmen into the small mountain towns to sell their goods and at some future point when there were enough sales to warrant the trip, a truck would make the deliveries.

In fact for a good part of my childhood we had no electricity. Yes, it was “backwoods.” But it is a beautiful part of my memories and of my confidence in my ability to survive. I know how to grow food and to preserve it. I know how to live without the modern conveniences. I can chop wood and wash clothes on a wash board, if I had to do so. But I will tell the truth; the gadgets and do dads we have today that make life easier and provides for us better availability for communication and travel, are preferred by me. I will not say that they are always better.

Before the telephone there was the pony express and there were smoke signals. Man has always had some form of long distance communication method. My Daddy taught us to use our hands to make a whistle through which we could blow air and let those from whom we were lost know where we were located. But telephones, I do not think I knew that they existed until I was about 13 years old.

My first telephone exposure in the home was when I turned 15. I went to live with an Uncle and Aunt in North Carolina. They had a telephone. It was a party line so it was not always available. Some party lines had more that two parties hooked to the same line. Oh boy! When they got a private line, I thought it was some kind of rich thing. It still had the local operator, whose first name you always knew and you hoped she did not listen in on your conversations. We did not use only numerical telephone numbers in those days. All the phones in that community were prefixed by “Whitney” then four numbers. I remember that we did not like it at all when our number went totally numerical. They changed “Whitney” to 947 and that part remains to this day.

What a fast paced world I have lived in and plan to live in for a while longer, if God agrees. Today I have a “land line” and a cell phone and a fax machine and the internet. But I do not say that all of it works as a better thing in all cases.

No. I have a great deal of problem with the telephone as I experience it now. It inflames my irritation of people who do not enunciate well and so do not communicate well; and before you think I speak of those who are not native speakers, I must say to you that respect for our English language has plummeted and our native speakers are afflicted by it.
My frustration is greatly enhanced by the auto-mated voice communications sources. I prefer to not do business with those who cannot give me the hopeful advantage of speaking to a real living person.

With all the faults of the telephone, I guess I would miss the spontaneous calls to and from family and the instant dialing to cancel or to make an appointment.

I do not know how the telephone works. I only know that it does. I do not understand how I can lay a sheet of paper with type on it on a machine, then dial some numbers and the type gets transmitted to any place in the world, but it does. I do not understand how God can hear my prayers and send answers back to me, but He does.

There is so much that I experience, and yet have no idea how it works. However, I continue to use the telephone and I continue to pray. I know a good thing when I experience it.

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This article has been read 693 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Mull 11/25/10
I really enjoyed this piece. You must be close to my age as I was 13 when we got our telephone. Have to agree that it has its advantages, but often the disadvantages can really get to one. I loved your reference to prayer and continuing to talk on the telephonw and pray. I've seen many answers to prayer, so, of course, that outweighs the telephone. Good job of staying on track.
Noel Mitaxa 11/25/10
I like your down to earth mix of nostalgia with your grasp of modern times. This is warm and open-hearted material. A very enjoyable entry.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/26/10
I enjoyed the walk back through time with you. I smiled at some of your descriptions. I remember the old party lines too. I also get frustrated when I can't get through to a real person. There are a few tricks for that though. Try pressing zero or a whole bunch of numbers. It often works! Nice story.
Christine Ramey11/28/10
How true is this article. I know my grandparents had a line similar to this. I always remember that because we'd get on the phone and hear everyones conversation. How annoying was this. I didn't won't to hear their comments because sometimes they weren't always pleasant. It was who did this and what they said. Yuck.
Lillian Rhoades 11/29/10
Your entry does pull back the curtain of time. I would just caution you to edit your piece to pick up on punctuation errors and misspelled words. For example-do dads should be doodads. I would also suggest organizing your thoughts so that there's a smoother transition from one paragraph to the next.

I agree, most of our technological advances are often "necessary evils."