In a message dated 19 Oct 2005 13:44:01 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org
[ ... ]
> In the city, payphones for prepay, even if dial-tone first. (I don't
> remember if 3-slots could have dial-tone first). On TV, it seemed
> every pay phone was also pre-pay.
> However, in rural locations, payphones were postpay. That is, you got
> a dial tone and dialed the number. If the line was busy or no answer
> you just hung up. But if answered you had to put in the dime to let
> your transmitter work. On such phones there was no "hold area" for
> coins and associated relay control, coins went directly into the box.
> That meant the phone had a much simpler construction as did the CO
> equipment, making it cheaper. People have previously stated there
> were ways to beat the system with that kind of payphone, but I presume
> the phoneco figured the cost savings were worth the risk, and maybe
> rural people were more honest and less scheming than city people.
I have lived in both small towns and urban places, and rural people
and city people are about the same as far as ethics and scheming.
However, in many small places the principal users of payphones were
out of town people, since generally any store or business would led
you use their flat-rate telephone free for local calls.
When I lived in Konawa, Oklahoma, in the early 1950s, such payphones
as existed were free for local calls and you just dialed the number.
For toll calls (placed through the operator) the operator told you how
much to put in and listened as it dropped directly into the box.
Of course, many small towns (and some pretty good sized ones) were
manual, and there was a charge for local calls and the operator
advised the called party to hold and listened as the caller deposited
In Muskogee, Oklahoma, a good-sized manual office, the payphones were
prepay; you deposited the cost of a local call and the operator would
answer; when you passed a local number she would connect the call and
drop off, the ringing (or busy signal) being returned without her
supervision. The coin(s) would return automatically if the line were
busy or didn't answer; if the call was completed the coins would be
collected automatically just as in dial prepay installations.