The Todd County Historical Society received a donation of a historic phone booth a few years back. The phone booth that stood for decades in the lobby of the Reichert Hotel is now in the Historical Society building at the fairgrounds. It is a popular attraction for young and old alike; a curiosity for the young, a reminder of youth for the old.
Seeing that phone booth conjures up images of mild-mannered Clark entering a nearby phone booth and emerging as Superman. Phone booths were plentiful back then. He’d be hard pressed to find one today! Our phones now are touted as “smart” but I doubt even they are smart enough to transform normal people into superheroes.
In the same era as phone booths we had party lines, rubbernecking, even your own ring-tone - 2 short one long perhaps. Some of these terms no longer exist in our current vocabulary. “Rubbernecking” is now defined as “craning one’s neck to see a traffic accident!” Wikipedia does describe “Party Line” as “a local loop telephone circuit that is shared by multiple subscribers.”
Our “land line” phones came with very short cords, which tethered you to a specific spot in the house. If you saved your allowance you could purchase a longer cord that might stretch to the closet – for privacy.
When the Christie family first got telephone service, in September 1900, they paid 77 cents, and around $2 per month thereafter. The phone “company” was owned by a local individual. Eventually the number of customers grew, and individual enterprises were taken over by larger and ever merging phone companies. ($2 in 1900 is the equivalent of $56.77 today)
My fondest memory of party lines came at my grandmother’s house. They had short and long rings for many years and if someone dialed Grandma by mistake her answer was always “They don’t live here anymore.”