Party Lines…

It all started when I heard reports that we should expect impeachment votes to be split along party lines. We knew that. With this administration more than any before, every vote is divided along party lines. I find myself saying, “We knew that” more frequently with each passing day.

*BREAKING NEWS* is not as advertised to those who have been following along for the past three years. Of course, the vote will be split along party lines—

I’ve become bored with the news; my mind wanders.

Remember when ‘party line’ meant your landline was spliced either to discount your bill or because better service wasn’t available? Of course, you don’t. You have probably only ever had a cell phone. You probably don’t even know what it was like when the cord for the only phone in the house wasn’t long enough to reach into your bedroom. If only I could reach the bedroom and close the door, to muffle the sound of a particular sibling’s wailing “GET OFF THE PHONE!”

I don’t remember party lines either, but I do remember reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show,” and a classic Doris Day, Rock Hudson, film ‘Pillow Talk.” Hearing ‘party lines’ gives me a vague recollection that makes me nostalgic for an era that was before my time, compelling me to spend the morning online, doing research.

A party line was a local loop, a circuit shared by multiple telephone users in the early days of the invention. They were the only option available for rural individual phone lines, and an economical choice for urbanites. I knew that.

So here I go, waaaay off track.

I searched Alexander Graham Bell:

blah, blah, blah, Edinburgh, Nova Scotia, Boston, blah blah, 1847, blah blah, grandfather, uncle, father, elocution, blah blah,
Hmm, this is interesting: Bell’s father’s colleague philologist Alexander Ellis portrayed as Professor Henry Higgins in Pygmalion,
blah blah, Bell self-taught piano, mimicked voices, blah blah, mother’s gradual deafness complete-he was 12, blah blah, brother tuberculosis, blah blah, off to The New World, blah blah, sign language, wife profoundly deaf,
Hmm-this is interesting: Bell opened “School of Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech” in Boston, one pupil was Helen Keller.

Now, this is interesting:

Alexander Graham Bell shared lab with another inventer, Anthony Meucci, who sent a telephone model and technical details to the Western Union telegraph company to try to garner a meeting. He was not granted a meeting, and when he asked them to return his materials, they claimed they lost them.

Two years later, Graham and Western Union were awarded US patent for telephone. Meucci sued, fraud charges were initiated against Bell, and the lawsuit went all the way to the Supreme Court. Meucci was expected to win— but died, ending the lawsuit.

Bell May have been awarded the first telephone patent, but it was a race to the finish against several others who vied to patent a telephone in 1876:

    Antonio Meucci may have invented the telephone,
    Johan Philipp Reis built something called the ‘make and break device,’
    Elisha Gray worked on a phone using a water microphone,
    Tivador Puskas created the telephone switchboard…

The invention of the switchboard brings me back to the ‘party line.’

Telephone demand outpaced the production and installation capabilities. Even if you could afford your own private line, it often wasn’t possible to have one in the early days. Telephone network traffic congestion in the middle of the 20th century in the United States often meant that up to three-quarters of residential service in 1943 was party line. Users were asked to limit calls to five minutes.

Private line shortages were reported as late as 1948. Some rural users had to run their own wires to reach the utility’s lines.

What was it like to have a party line? There was no privacy in communication. Listening in on calls and gossiping about what was heard was a source of entertainment.

I wandered so far off track that I ended up researching the guy my high school was named after, because – six degrees of separation starting with Bell led me to him. I never cared to know what the namesake of my school had done to receive that honor, and I’ve already forgotten what I read. Something has never been right in the relationship high school has and had with my brain.

Speaking of intelligence, the House Intelligence Committee will draft their impeachment report tomorrow, Monday.

On Tuesday evening, they’ll vote on the impeachment report.

The vote is a formality because it is expected the vote will be split along —

Party Lines.

Today is a good day to watch ‘Pillow Talk, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. No more politics today.

Intelligence Committee to begin circulating draft Ukraine report Monday

3 thoughts on “Party Lines…

  1. I remember party lines. We were told to absolutely minimize any phone calls and not say anything because “someone” might listen in. Things haven’t really changed much the “Google-monster” knows all.
    Every Saturday at 10:00 (because I was taught it was rude to call before 10) I called 7-4611 and asked if Kim could play. Interestingly, Sharon, my godmother and Kim’s mother, after many moves and changes through the years. now lives next door to Dad and has the same phone number…except that you have to dial all of it. Even though I’ve dialed that number all my life I get stuck on the stupid stuff that comes before 7. Why the expletive deleted do we have to dial the area code to call next door? So much easier to just pick up and listen in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this comment! This subject is just one example of how much the world has changed between generations. With the telephone, once the changes started, everything accelerated, like phone numbers going from 5 numbers to 10.
      I’ll have to talk to my mom about her experiences. She grew up in a rural area, I imagine, with a phone without numbers on it.
      I grew up in a city, with a private line, but remember once or twice picking up the phone and hearing a random conversation between strangers.
      So much has changed.


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