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More on the perils of party line phones

Points East

Well, if it did nothing else, last week’s column on the perils of party line telephone service back in the day certainly stirred up a lot of Facebook chatter and a bunch of both snail mail and email, some of it from parts unknown.

For instance I have no idea where Battlefield, Ky., is located, nor Asher, Ky., and Google has, so far, been less than helpful. But I had correspondence from both places from readers who wanted to share party line experiences.

So much so, that the column needs a follow-up.

One fellow wrote to say that eavesdropping was considered the ultimate in bad manners and bad taste. He said that being accused of eavesdropping was an awful insult. So one day he was on the phone with a relative and he told the person to be careful what they said because he thought a certain lady was eavesdropping.

Sure enough, she came on the line and informed them, “I am not eavesdropping, I just wanted to see what you fellers was talking about.”

Another writer said she was on the phone with a friend in another town and mentioned that she thought a certain woman was eavesdropping, and that person came on the line to tell them that she was “doing no such thing and that’s the way lies got spread.”

A friend in Letcher County said her brother was on the phone with his girlfriend and he told her he thought somebody was eavesdropping and their neighbor popped up and said, “Well, it shore ain’t me!”

The fellow from Battlefield said that a group of about six women would all get on the phone at the same time and prattle on all day so that he could never get to use the phone when he needed to. He tried politely asking if he could use the phone for just a few minutes and they could have it back. They totally ignored him.

Later that evening he finally got to make his call and his girlfriend asked him why it had taken him all day to call her.

He told her that there was a group of gossipy, busybody, old maid, biddy hens who kept the phone tied up all day talking to each other about everybody else because they were sexually frustrated and couldn’t find a man.

She told him it was the same way where she lived and she was surprised he even got through when he did. They had to wait several seconds before they could resume talking because the sound of phones being hung up on both his end and hers was so loud they couldn’t hear each other.

He said after that, anytime he needed to use the phone, all he had to do was pick up the receiver and clear his throat and he’d hear receivers slamming down so hard it sounded like a hailstorm. He said if he drove down the road and certain women sitting on their porches saw his car coming, they would jump up and run into the house before he got there so they wouldn’t have to wave at him.

But he didn’t mind or even take it personally, because he was finally able to get the telephone service he was paying for.

In other news, I learned something during that hard freeze we had here on Tuesday, April 15. It cooked our beautiful bleeding heart that was in full bloom all the way to the ground. Our redbud, at the time, in the backyard is now a black bud. And we won’t have to worry about dozens of bushels of pears going to waste this fall, because there won’t be any. Those thousand or more of beautiful white blossoms, too, are now jet-black.

But it did not hurt the tulips at all. We have about three dozen that did turn from pink to red but they are as vigorous as ever. I knew they could take a frost, but I didn’t know they could stand a hard freeze so well. I was sorta hoping it would kill the dandelions, but no such luck.

Loretta used shears to trim off all the dead bleeding heart stalks because somebody told us it would come back and bloom again if we did that. I’m not holding my breath but I hope they’re right.

In the meantime, if any of you know in what counties Battlefield and Asher are located, please send an email to ikeadams@aol.com.



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