Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Paperless Phone Book of 1955

I didn't invent the internet, but I may have been a part of the first conference call in Soperton. It happened when I was 11 or 12 years old. My brother, Dale, was a participant along with his best friend Tommy Rushin and Gordon Jones.  The last phone book printed by the original Soperton Telephone Company, Inc. was in 1955. Accompanying this blog post you will have on your screen the first paperless copy of the 1955 phone book: 20 pages including 4 pages of names and phone numbers. It's a piece of history. 

You can print out a paper copy. You don't have to soil your hands or wear out the artifact by handling it.  If you're technical, you may be able to convert the text for character recognition. Anyhow, it doesn't cost you a dime.

The book is courtesy of the Treutlen County Historical Society, and if you would like to say thanks, just go to the quarterly meeting at the library Sunday afternoon. Visitors are always welcome. If you can't make it to the meeting, you may become a member by sending dues to Mrs. Juanita Youmans. Pay only $20 per year for individual or a couple.

With that said, back to the conference call. Otis and Nora Belle conveyed their family owned phone company to Plant Telephone Company, which put in a dial phone system and extended more lines into the countryside and Tarrytown. For a few days at our house we still had our old phone, connected to the hand operated switchboard (upstairs Laura McLendon's building), plus the brand new dial phone, connected to the elaborate switching equipment at the new building across the street from the Baptist Church. 

It was a simple matter for Dale and I to use both phones to call Tommy on one, Gordon on the other, put the receivers together and have a four-way conversation.

Enjoy your paperless phone book, and if you're under 50 you may be amazed how thriving Soperton once was.

William A. Ricks

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