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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: Party lines & dial tones: Hawley's telephones PART 2

  • In part one we explored the arrival of the telegraph in Hawley in 1862, and twenty years later, the beginning of telephone service here. In 1908, Bell of Pennsylvania took over in the region. They had a switchboard exchange above the First National Bank in Hawley and later operated at 508 Keystone Street and then 206 Maple Av...
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  • In part one we explored the arrival of the telegraph in Hawley in 1862, and twenty years later, the beginning of telephone service here. In 1908, Bell of Pennsylvania took over in the region. They had a switchboard exchange above the First National Bank in Hawley and later operated at 508 Keystone Street and then 206 Maple Avenue.
    Some people who grew up in the Hawley area reminisced about local operators and party lines.
    "I recall that one of the operators was Irene French. She was the wife of Jim French who worked for the Hawley Times when James Spence owned the paper," said Art Glantz.
    During World War II, Glantz was one of the local boys volunteering as airplane spotters. Operating out of a shack on the property of Mrs. Irene Baisden at 785 Hudson Street, the spotters had a phone to to report on planes that they saw or heard. They would crank the phone and say "Army Flash," Glantz said. "We were connected with a plotting board either in Scranton or Mitchell Field in NY – I never knew which."
    "It wasn't until after the war that my family was able to get a phone in the house." Glantz reminisced.
    "In the fall of 1946, as I went into my last year of high school, I wrote a sports column for the Hawley Times, primarily reporting basketball games. I felt I needed a phone but, it was almost impossible to get one. Fortunately, I had friends who had 'pull' and they were able to arrange for us to get a phone installed in the house."
    "It was a two party line – again, we had to turn a crank to get the operator who got the number for us. We had that type of phone for a few years."
    Mary A. Richardson worked as a telephone operator back in the teens. She'd walk from her home at 406 Church Street to the switchboard above the bank. She would become the bride of major league ballplayer Eddie Murphy in 1917. Mary's younger sister Bessie carried on as a Hawley switchboard operator for many years.
    "Bessie knew where everyone was," recalled Tom Sheridan, with a smile. Recalling back to the 1930's as a boy, he said when you rang the operator and Bessie Richardson answered, she would tell you the person you wanted to reach wasn't at home and might tell you where the person went.
    In those days Tom's family on Hudson Street didn't have a telephone. "We couldn't afford one," he said. If they needed to make a call, they would go down to Swingle's market (corner of Spruce and Hudson where Hawley Medical Center is today) where Fred Swingle would let you use the phone- no charge.
    There were of course party lines in those days. Sheridan said it was normal to listen in. You would try and be quiet but sometimes the person on the other end would holler at you to hang up.
    Page 2 of 6 - On a "three party" line there were three phone customers sharing the wire. You would listen for your ring- one, two or three- and you were supposed to pick up only when it was your call, he said.
    If someone had an emergency you would break in the call and tell them you needed the line.
    "Today's generation would have a hard time understanding it," Sheridan said.
    His father-in-law Marvin Schutz lived up on Rocky Run Road in Palmyra Township- Wayne. "Ma Bell wouldn't run the line there- not enough people," Sheridan stated. So Schutz started his own service, Burr Oak Telephone Company. He put up his own poles and ran a line, and contracted with Bell Telephone.
    Shirley (Bea) Gumble said that most everyone was on a party line, unless you had enough money to pay for a private line.
    One time while raising her family in Paupack in the mid-1950s, she had to break in a party line to call the doctor for one of her children. Her neighbor was the other party; she got off the phone and came over to assist.
    On the other it could be quite inconvenient. Gumble remembers the frustration as a child of wanting to make a call but the party line was busy. While waiting, one would pick up the phone and if you heard talking, you would hang it up and wait.
    Then again some people would just pick it up and listen.
    June (Ellingsen) Strait, who was born in 1920 up off the top of Spruce Street (Sport Hill), said they had a phone at their house when she was a child. Her father had a large poultry business. She said she remembers holding the old telephone with both hands and having to crank it.
    "Neighbors knew what was going on," Strait recalled. "The phone rang in their house too and they listened." Customers would call her parents to order chickens or eggs. She remembered the neighbors picking up and taking the message but never telling the Ellingsens.
    The phone book in those days was very thin, she recalled, and the bill was very low. She still has one of their phone bills from the 1920's.
    A lot of people in town didn't have telephones, Strait said. A lot of homes didn't even have electricity.
    Times were swiftly changing. Art Glantz said he first saw a dial telephone one day in Milford. That was years before it came to Hawley, at least to his house, he said.
    --- Dial service
    Dial service came to Hawley on Friday, June 29, 1951. The Hawley Times published a picture of Burgess (mayor) Michael T. Periche making the first regular call over Hawley's new $166,000 dial phone system. He called John J. Haggerty, president of Borough Council.
    Page 3 of 6 - The lines were being installed in March. The new dial service was first strung between Hawley and Honesdale. Workers were putting up 48,900 feet of aerial cable and 550 feet of buried cable.
    Manual switchboard operators were no longer needed. The July 12, 1951 Hawley Times reported that a dinner was held two nights before at The Tudor Manor (now The Settlers Inn) honoring former or retiring operators. Approximately 29 of "the girls" attended.
    Miss Bessie Richardson was thanked for 34 years of service with a corsage and a service pin. Miss Edna Thornton was likewise honored for 20 years of asking, "Number please?".
    The big switch came at 7 a.m. on June 29th, when phone usage was low. Phone subscribers were alerted in the newspaper of how it would work, and what the "dial tone" meant.
    The new system started with dialing "2" to reach the Honesdale operator, who would the need your four-digit number. All other calls required dialing "0" to reach the operator.
    Automatic switching equipment was housed in Bell Telephone Company's new brick building at 214 Maple Avenue.
    At some later date, the "226" exchange for Hawley would be introduced. It was in use by 1961.
    Although Hawley residents were now enjoying the convenience of dial telephones, you could still dispatch a telegram.
    Western Union Telegraph Company was still located in the Manor Cut Rate at 310 Main Avenue, in the 1961 directory.
    Alexander Graham Bell's wonderful telephone would win. Samuel Morse's telegraph would soon be forgotten.
    Hawley would soon be identified with the AT&T Earth Station erected in 1973 at nearby Kimbles. International calls bounced off satellites would be coming through the station's enormous dishes.
    Welcome to the modern age. Since 2004, a tower set up on the ridge overlooking Hawley has provided cell service. A new generation could now walk about with their hand holding a little device to their ear- keeping in touch with the world.
    Editor's Note: A listing of Hawley phone customers found in the 1910 Bell of Pennsylvania directory is found online at www.neagle.com. There are approximately 110 names on the list, mostly businesses.
    Sources:
    Things Forgotten: Wayne County 1876-1889 by Dr. Vernon Leslie (1900)
    Hawley Times archives/ Wallenpaupack Historical Society
    ••••• Who had a phone in Hawley in 1910?•••••
    By Peter Becker
    Managing Editor
    HAWLEY- This list is extracted from the June 1910 phone directory published by Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania and is on file at the Wayne County Historical Society. This list notes the approximately 110 telephone customers in Hawley Borough at that time.
    In many cases only first and middle initials were given with the surname; the 1912 Hawley street directory aided in completing many names here.
    Page 4 of 6 - Note that several important facilities where we would expect there to be a telephone, had none listed. They include the Hawley Graded School on Academy Street, the Borough office in the Odd Fellows Hall, and any numbers to reach the fire station or police chief.
    In a couple instances, the old street numbers are given rather than names, which were adopted at some point between 1903 and 1910. "Twentieth" is Chestnut Avenue. The location for the Bell Telephone pay station on "Ninth Street" is unclear. The 1872 map plots Ninth Street in the far northern section, just west of Ridge Avenue where no street is laid out today.
    "r"= residence
    43-4 Adams, Jacob r... Spring Street
    22-3 Ames, W.C. Livery... Church Street
    29-6 Ammerman, William B. r... Erie Avenue (today: Welwood)
    55 Atkinson Box & Lumber Co.... Atkinson Street
    4-3 Atkinson, J.J. r... Atkinson Street
    31-4 Atkinson & Quinnet, merchants... Erie Avenue (today: Welwood)
    31-2 Baisden, J.Winfield, livery... Erie Avenue (today: Welwood), corner with Church St.
    0 Bell Telephone Co. of Penna., pay station... Ninth
    20-3 Bigart, H.S., grocer... Main Avenue
    20-2 Dingham, D. r... Keystone Street
    20-4 Bingham & Wall, insurance office... Maple Avenue
    35-3 Byers, John M. r... Woodland Avenue
    21 Catteral, Dr. Alfred H. office... Church Street
    40-2 Chapman, John M. r... Chetsnut Avenue
    46-2 Conkling, John F., r.... Hudson Street
    41-4 Cooke, Dr. Lewis P., r... Keystone Street (dentist, and president, First National Bank)
    1-3 Corcoran, Michael, grocer... Keystone Street
    33-6 Cross, P.R., r... Paupack Street
    15-4 Decker, Victor A., r... First (?)*
    18-3 Drake, James F., merchant... Church Street near Bishop Ave.
    56- Ely, Dr. R.H., office, Main Ave.... Church Street
    48-2 Erie Depot, Passenger Station... West Hawley
    48-3 & 42-13 Erie Depot, Freight Station... West Hawley
    22 Erie Railroad Company... West Hawley
    58-2 Everding, John, grocer... Erie Avenue (today: Welwood)
    57-2 First Baptist Church... Hudson Street
    6 First National Bank... Main Avenue
    30-2 Goldbach, Edward, shoe store... Main Avenue
    18-4 Gottleib, Matter & Son, flour & feed... Church Street
    16-2 Guinn Bros., hardware... Church Street
    5-3 Hawley Glass Company, factory... Glass Row (Crystal Street)
    15-3 Hawley Silk Company... Hudson Street
    492 Hawley Times, printing office... River Street
    1-2 Hensel, Ludolph, r... Main Avenue
    60-12 Kays, Harry H., farm... Hawley
    35-2 Kahlus, Ernest, r... Woodlawn Avenue
    29-4 Killam, A.K., r... Atkinson Street
    35-5 Killam, Mae, r... Fern Street
    10-3 Knapp, William C., r... Chestnut Avenue
    Page 5 of 6 - 25-4 Kohlman House, A. Kohlmann, prop., Keystone St. & Penn Ave.
    31-5 Lehman, Christ, hotel...Church Street
    51-2, Lehman, Christ, pay station... Church Street
    41-2 Lobb, Anthony J., r... Keystone Avenue
    7-4 Lobb & Jacobs, confectionary & cigars...Main Avenue
    29-5 Mandeville, John E., r... Atkinson Street
    27-5 Mangan, Thomas F., r... River Street (president, The Hawley Bank)
    26 Maple City Glass Company, cutting shop... Falls Avenue
    32-4 Martin, Ralph F., poultry farm... Hawley
    32-3 Martin, Ralph F., r... Hudson Street
    43-3 Mayer, Albert, r... Main Avenue
    12-3 Mayers, Mary, restaurant... Main Avenue
    35-4 Mederer, John r... Bellemonte Avenue
    14-3 Miller, S., r...Main Avenue (Solomon Miller had a clothing store on Main near Keystone)
    10-4 Murray, E.V., r... Church Street
    65 Nell, Charles P., butcher...Hawley
    30-3 Bell, Charles P. meat market... Main Avenue (near Church St.)
    33-5 O'Connor, John S., r... Falls Avenue
    48-4 Palmer, S.T., r... Hudson Street
    17-2 Peterson, Rev. W.S., r... Church Street
    50-3 Phillips, L., r... Maple Avenue
    29-3 Pierson, Wesley N., r... Atkinson Street
    16-5 Plum, Herbert P., livery... Church Street, near Bishop Avenue
    18-2 Poeppel, F., r... Church Street
    43-2 Polley, H. E., r... Spring Street
    9-3 Post Office, D. James Colgate, postmaster... Main Avenue
    47-14 Rake, Albert, r... Notc (?)
    47-15 Rake, Hiram, r... Notc (?)
    16-4 Reafler, Martin, hotel... Church Street
    50-5 Richardson, Edward J., r... Church Street
    11-2 Ripley, B.P., r... Maple Avenue
    37 Rodman, Dr. Georgr T. , physician... Church Street
    60-3 Rose, Fred, carpenter... Hawley
    60-14 Rutan, Warren K., farm... Hawley
    60-2 Sands, Beilman, poultry farm... Hawley
    15-2 Saxony Knitting Mills... Hudson Street
    16-3 Schlager, Edward L., merchant... Church Street
    60-13 Schultz, Fred, poultry farm... Hawley
    47-31 Smith, Frank... Notc (?)
    3-2 & 3-4 Snyder & Freethy, druggists... Main Avenue
    46-4 Stevenson, F.R., r... Water Street (?)
    46-3 Stout, Thomas, r... Chestnut Ave. & Hudson St. (?)
    10-2 St. Philomena's Church... Twentieth St.
    24-3 Suydam, William F. Jr., r... Erie Avenue (now Welwood)
    50-1 Teeter, Richard Est., r... Church Street
    8-3 Tether, Dr. J.Edward, dentist... Main Avenue
    12-2 Thompson, George S., grocer.. Main Avenue
    33-2 Tuthill, Edgar, r... Falls Avenue
    60-4 Tuthill, Willis, dairyman... Hawley
    11-4 Tuthill, Millie, r... Maple Avenue
    25-5 Vogler, Ernest, r... Penn Avenue
    53 Voigt, Dr. Arno C., office... Keystone Street
    31-3 VonFrank, Henry, merchant... Erie Avenue (now Welwood)
    Page 6 of 6 - 60-11 Wagner, Henry P., r... Hawley
    34-2 Wall, Theodore F.... Penn Avenue
    9-2 Warg, Reinhard F., shoe store... Church Street
    50-2 Warf, Reinhard F., r... Penn Avenue
    27-3 Watson, Edward, r... Maple Avenue
    14-2 Watts, Graham & Son, hardware...Keystone Street
    22-4 Wayne County Hotel, A.H. Frank, prop... Church Street
    9-4 Welsh & Ames, merchants... Church Street
    28 Western Union Telegraph Office... Main Avenue
    13-2 Wetzel, Aug, meat market... Keystone Street
    5-4 White, Frederick C., r...Church Street
    10-5 Wilds, Curtis, r... Chestnut Avenue
    R44-11 Williams, C.A., r... Paupack Street.
    *- The 1912 street directory lists Victor A. Decker as a cashier at the First National Bank, Hawley. He and his wife Minnie B. lived on Hudson Street at the corner with Locust Avenue. (Modern maps do not list a Locust Avenue.)

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