Wayzata, Minnesota

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sepia Saturday Please, Answer the Phone!

Is that the telephone ringing?


(along those lines)
Murder? Or is this post climbing a telephone pole instead?
I am a copper wire slung in the air,
Slim against the sun I make not even a clear line of shadow.
Night and day I keep singing--humming and thrumming:
It is love and war and money: it is the fighting and the tears, the work
and want,
Death and laughter of men and women passing through me, carrier of
your speech,
In the rain and the wet dripping, in the dawn and the shine drying,
A copper wire.
Carl Sandburg
Welcome back Alan- we've missed you- but Kat has kept everything ship-shape
while you were sailing about the world!
Alan's theme photo this week is all about
Ladies holding down excellent jobs as switch-board operators.
What connected callers to one another were "switches" at a switchboard.
O Lord, for all I done to-day
To cause annoyance and delay
To make a person rant and rave,
For all wrong numbers I have gave,
And gave and gave when I'd be cryin'
For five three seven, thrrree seven, ni-yun,
For all the needless irritation
When I cut off a conversation,
The cusses--calls for information
Because of me--the slaps and slams,
The smashed receivers--darns and damns
I've caused this day--O Lord, for these
And all my sins,
Excuse it. Please!
Oliver Herford
Amazing how grammar played so little a part in many poems back then.
"When you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal." - From Murphy's Law Book Two-
Believe me there were countless openings for this position.
This is Helen, (very intent on doing the most effective job she can) while managing the telephones at Many Glacier Hotel -
June 26, 1925.
This engineer is plowing under some rural wires in Dallas County and it's the first time this device was used in Iowa for putting the wires underground.
Northwestern Bell Telephone
Company Engineer in Iowa.
Of course once the wires have all been laid or telephone poles pounded into the ground and another skilled lineman mounts another pole, those lengthened strands he strings so steadily upright in the sky-next comes the installation inside private houses or companies.
 "Oh, I can hardly wait to dial my new telephone. Please do hurry. I have so many calls to make."
Onward towards the many places you could pick up a telephone.
 First up the Beatles
Waitin' for a call from you!
Mr. Physician making a major and possibly life threatening decision, or not.
Well, there certainly weren't any pizza delivery places back then.
Just another hot afternoon by the sea...... 
"Listen darling, do run along now while your mother makes a call.
One must be respectful while using a party line."
From the trenches on all sides of war.....
 Telephones were used on the fields during wars, when they were lucky enough to have them.
 This lady is taking advantage of the new turn-of-the-century telephone off the wall and into her hand, known as the Candlestick and the Upright. 
"My, my Isabella, this is Genevieve, speaking over my new telephone device which is just heaven to use."
Snort, snort, "Oh I heard that, oh my goodness gracious!"  If Ernestine wasn't eavesdropping on other people's conversations she might try calling her boyfriend, Vito a telephone repair man, or perhaps switching over to her best friend, Phoenicia another operator.
"Is that you darling?" Alfred Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder"
featuring Grace Kelly, Ray Milland and Robert Cummings.
there was "Sorry Wrong Number" or "Who's Calling" and "Speak no Evil."
All apart tangled wires....whispering of murder and into tangle lives fighting to escape.
Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster
 "In the tangled networks of a great city the telephone is the unseen line between a million lives. It is the servant of our common needs--the confidante of our inmost and happiness wait upon its ring....and horror....and loneliness.....and death!" --opening crawl from Paramount's Sorry, Wrong Number, 1948.
Now why doesn't she appear a bit happier here? 
Once Upon A Honeymoon 1956
 "Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?"
James Thurber-
You never ever get the wrong number when you check in on other Sepia Saturday posts.
So why not ring them up
go here 


Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Karen, what a fantastic selection of photos! I loved all the old movie ones the most.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

A wonderful post. I'd forgotten how many movie plots centered around phone calls. Interesting and entertaining read!

JJ said...

Wow. This post is really great. I love every photo, and the quotes and poems with them make this one of my favorite posts of all time.

Yvonne Demoskoff said...

I hadn't realized how many old movies had a telephone that was central to the plot. Thanks for the sentimental journey!

Bob Scotney said...

A brilliant post, Karen. The opening shot of men on the pole grabs your attention right away. Two very apt poems as well. Like to see the laying of lines underground.

Kathy said...

A little bit of everything. Loved it!

Postcardy said...

the guy that wrote "The Telephone Girls Prayer" sure didn't have a very high opinion of them.

Karen S. said...

Postcardy- You are so right- when I first read it I thought- well it should be a woman writing- but then it turns out a man- it all made perfect sense after that!


Certainly enjoyed the prayer and Murphy's Law quote.
And Ernestine certainly remains one of my fave characters.
Great post!!

Alan Burnett said...

Thank you so much for the welcome home message. And I have missed Sepia Saturday whilst I have been away, especially such tour-de-forces as your posts. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Peter said...

I think this picture with the pole climbers is just fantastic! And so is the rest of this post. I enjoyed it very much.

Tattered and Lost said...

A wonderful historical and cultural walk through the telephone lines. I couldn't help but think of the tiny key chains my uncle gave me in the 60s of a miniature Princess phone that I used for my Barbie doll. Phones made a home design statement for so long. Now they're just little rectangles.

Liz Stratton said...

Oh what fun! I loved all these images and the great collection of poems.

Jana Last said...

Wonderful post! That first photo is so very unusual! I'm wondering why those men were all up there at the same time.

And party lines? I can't imagine how annoying those must have been! Absolutely no private conversations then!

And of course, I do remember Ernestine. One ringy-dingy....

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your wonderful tour of historic pictures. Informative, comical and entertaining at the same time. Thanks for sharing!

Wendy said...

So many ways to comment! I love the Operator's Prayer. And Lily Tomlin is a favorite. My sister and I still repeat Ernestine's line: Is this the party to whom I am speaking?

Joy said...

You have some great photos here, each one a gem woven into your story. I hadn't even thought of Dial M for Murder and the Hitchcock photo is so funny. By weird coincidence I past a man up a telephone pole today, if I'd taken a photo it wouldn't have been as mysterious as yours. Though as it was raining and misty it wasn't as though I was going to stop driving by, LOL.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Ernestine is still my favorite, and I loved seeing her photo. The operators' prayer is great as well as the Carl Sandburg poem and all the array of did a lot of work or web browsing this week

Kat Mortensen said...

Ooh, "Sorry, Wrong Number" is a great film! I love those old thrillers!

Pretty sure that scene with the Beatles was from "Help!"

Good job, Karen!

sage said...

A little phone trivia--one of the first places in the American West to have telephones was Virginia City, NV, where they were used in the mines... it was also the last place in the continental US that one had to go through an operator to make a call (that was in 1975, the year I graduated from high school).

Karen S. said...

Sage- that is so interesting, I did not know that. Of course Nevada is one of my favorite states too, and I like Virginia City too! On a completely off subject have you ever been to Las Vegas, New Mexico?