I’m asking you to take a trip to yesteryear with me – the olden days as it were.

Some of you who grew up in the early days will remember the old telephone lines. Remember – the party line? There would be a dozen or more families who shared the same telephone line. It made for interesting listening.

You had to carefully memorize your “ring.” When the phone rang, it ran in longs and shorts. If I remember correctly, our ring was one long, two shorts. Everybody had a combination of longs and shorts. When you heard your call, you picked up the receiver and talked.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. If things were a bit dull on a particular day – and this did happen in small towns – you just might pick up and listen in on a call you knew was for your neighbor. How else could you keep up on the news in town?

I had a friend who was working in Washington, D.C. She would call her parents in Doran, Minn. When their rings were heard, people thought it might be her calling. So, as she was talking, she’d hear clicks on the line. The other people were picking up their receivers to list in. After all, news from Washington, D.C., would probably be worth listening to.

However, what happened every time another person clicked on, the power on the line grew weaker until finally neither party could hear each other. So, one time my friend had to ask the people if they could please hang up because she couldn’t hear her mother. They mostly obliged and she heard, “click, click, click” as 11 people hung up. Knowing there were 12 on the line, she had to ask the last one to hang up, also, and one more click was heard.

One day my father picked up the receiver to dial, not realizing someone was on the line. Suddenly he realized two people were talking, but it sounded funny. He listened a bit and then realized they were talking Norwegian. I suppose those two thought they’d solved the “listening in” business. However, what they didn’t know was that my father spoke fluent Norwegian. But he hung up. He didn’t like the “rubbering” as it was called.

We didn’t have a telephone until I started high school in Breckenridge. Guess they thought they could keep better track of me that way.

I’d like to hear: one long, two shorts once again, for old times sake.

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