Number, Please #2

I received a packet from Roger Brewer that contained things relating  to the Chenango Valley Telephone Company: photos, comments and a 1901 telephone directory. So I felt another article was in order.

The telephone directory, titled First Annual Directory of Phone Owners on the Chenango Valley Telephone Lines and Connecting Lines, is most interesting.  The subscibers’ names are listed under the line they’re on (for example: Greene and Coventry line) but no number is given, only the type of ring they would get using dots and dashes.  Dr. Guy was _ . _ . which meant one long,short,long and short ring. Unless he was on your line, Central always had to be contacted.  Included in this article are the rules and general information.

Roger included some more information about the company and the employees. He remembers the business office first being in the Sherwood Hotel, then Gray Insurance and finally the brick house on Jackson Street where the Central Office also was.

Other names of employees not mentioned in the first article are: Don Phelps, Al Beach, Ed Brown, Bill Cady, Elmer Eddy, Virginia Purple, Helen Randall, Lucille Marvin, Dot O’Conner, Delores Gibson, Helen Parks. The photo included of a company clambake is charming and everyone looks so happy on a summer day. The names are insignificant; just enjoy the image of a company picnic in 1938, although if you must know, #1 is Deforest Brewer. Notice that a man in the back has on a tie and all the men have on white shirts.

I’d like to end with another story that my brother wrote about contacting a friend by telephone in Gilbertsville. Again, just imagine all the places mentioned being in Greene.


This story is offered with a smile.  Every word is true.

There was a time in Gilbertville, when the telephone had no dials.  In order to make a call, you had to turn a crank on a wooden box which caused a signal at a switchboard located in a house on Marion Ave., now gone.  An operator, usually a lady named Pearl Card, said "Gilbertsville" and you said the name of the person you wished to call.  Younger readers may think this to be rather inefficient, and perhaps it was, but there was a personal touch and sometimes it was very helpful.  And sometimes it was downright astounding.  Let me give this example.

     One time, it must have been in the early 1950's, I was in New Jersey and needed to talk to my friend John Stebbins.  So I went to a pay phone, put in my nickel and told the operator I wished to speak to John Stebbins in Gilbertsville, New York, no, I didn't know the number.  She was doubtful, but in only moments had Mrs. Card on the line.  Number for John Stebbins, Please, she said.  Ring,ring, went Mrs.Card.  No, John isn’t here, he went to his mother's.  Ring, ring. No, he went to the gas station.  Ring, ring, well he was here but he left for the drug store (it was a market but we called it the drug store).  Ring, ring, you just missed him, he said he had to stop at the hardware store.  Ring, ring, yes, John was here and I think he is headed for the hotel.  Ring, ring no, I haven't seen John hold on someone just came in.  Hey, John, there's a phone call for you.  New Jersey operator:  Is this John Stebbins?  Yes.  To me: 
That'll be 35 cents for three minutes.  That was some chase!  You sure got 35 cents worth!
John, if you’re reading this, I hope it gives you a laugh.  It does me whenever I think of it.