TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Party Line Dialing, was Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes

Re: Party Line Dialing, was Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes
23 Feb 2007 22:10:53 -0800

Herb Oxley wrote:

> Hence expanding the local facilities took a back seat until I think
> the late 1960s. After all Bell wasn't making much money on local
> phone service.

Well, yes those other services were profitable, but without local
service there was no long distance or anything else.

The new homes being built in the suburbs tended to be for more
affluent people who would want premium services which cost extra, like
color phones, extra extensions, intercoms, etc. Also, suburban
callers tended to have higher bills; unlike cities which had a wide
local calling area, the suburban areas were short and they had to pay
extra to call the unit.

Let's remember that these new suburbs had businesses too, and they
needed phone service. Suburbanites would use the phone more so
suburban businesses would have more phones than a city business might.
The postwar world had displacement, so more people would be making
long distance calls to call home.

None of this profitable business growth would be possible without
local service to bring it all together. But you are correct that
local service was delayed.

There are articles that Bell complained developments would go up
without notice to them to prepare for it. I know Levittown PA didn't
have phones when built and they had corner kiosks with pay phones at
first. Eventually a big new C.O. was built. Bell did a lot of
construction in those days (it was more than just building switches,
they needed a building to house them). I think this happened in a lot
of places in big new developments. A lot of small towns were horribly
overwhelmed in all sorts of way by these developments. Many early
people in these communities did not have an easy time of it, nor their
kids who were forced to go school in shifts or in makeshift
facilities. Mothers who didn't have a car were prisoners in their
home all day long. Fathers spent hours in traffic on lousy roads.

The 1950s suburban dream wasn't quite as idyllic as we think. Back
then people never talked about their personal emotional problems.
Some couples were very stressed out by it all. Some got caught up in
"keeping up with the Jones" and were obsessed with status seeking and
employment advancement (their kids would rebel against that lifestyle
in the 1960s). Some were heavy drinkers or physical abusers, but
again, this was kept quiet. Some couples were married in the wartime
rush and weren't meant for each other and were miserable, but divorce
was out of the question in those days.

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