My family lived in Oklahoma City until I was in the third grade. I have no memory of a phone from those days in the city, although I’m sure we had one as Dad worked for the phone company: Southwestern Bell Telephone. The first phone I remember was the one we had after we moved to the farm in 1951. It was a hand-cranked, four-party phone line. I remember “our” hand-cranked number: two longs and a short. Each person on the party line had a different ring pattern. I have no idea how we got outside out party line; I suppose there was a specific ring pattern for the operator. To this day I can remember cranking that phone.
At some point we upgraded to a phone that would only ring when it was for us, although we were still on a party line. We would have to pick up the phone and see if anyone was talking before used it. Courtesy required that calls be kept short, although occasionally someone would chat away for a long time. The same phone courtesy rules dictated that for an emergency you could tell the person on the line to hang up that there was an emergency and you needed to use the phone..
Did that phone still have a crank or did it have a dial? I honestly don’t remember. It was, after all, close to 70 years ago. I can barely remember last week these days.
We had the party line at least until I moved away to college in 1960. And I don’t remember ever having a party line after that. I’m sure when I lived in Oklahoma City after leaving home, there were no party lines.
I don’t miss party lines, although I always love these little trips down memory lane. But then that’s what happens when the majority of one’s life is behind one. The time ahead is unknown, but I can bet it won’t be another 76 years.