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June 14, 2011


Carl Schwab

Another Telephone Ground Story---
The writer was born in 1929 shortly before the Stock Market Crash. My parents had a farm and being up-to-date was connected to a privately held coop telephone company.
The phone equipment was simple. It consisted to a single wire mounted on hedge poles with a screw-on glass insulator. The half-dozen party-line radials each led to the switchboard about 3 miles away. Now the return of this system was by ground stake. The ringing generator at each location was a hand-cranked magneto and put out about 100-150 volts depending upon how hard you cranked. A carbon granule mike and 2, #6 cells, provided the talking current. Being party line on the radial to the switchboard everyone knew the other persons ring (ours was 2 shorts and a long). The women folk like to gab and sometimes you had to be down right rude to get access to the line.

About the ground. We had some really dry years from 1934 to 1938 and my Mother instructed me that it was my responsibility to carry 2 milk pails of water to the stake each day and pour it around the stake to keep the ground moist. If I didn’t do it she immediately knew because the voice volume was low and ringing weak.

Niall Mac Caughey

A telephone story from Ireland:
Some (but not many) years ago a friend of mine was a technician for the phone company. He got a report of a fault on an old lady's phone. The report said that the phone worked fine, except when the garden gate was open.

He headed out expecting to have one of those long and difficult conversations that you have with folks who are superstitious of new-fangled technology, meaning anything that uses electricity.

When he arrived the phone was working; not high-quality audio, but functional. Suddenly the line went dead; he looked out the window towards the road & saw the old lady had opened the garden gate.

He checked the incoming junction box and found that the incoming pair had been disconnected and some changes made including a wire running to the fence. Further down the road he found a wire running from the fence up the telephone pole.

He climbed the pole and found that the original pair that fed the house had failed on both legs. A previous technician had obviously found this problem, but there were no spare pairs left on the multipair cable. A tricky problem (especially if it is the last job on a Friday afternoon), so he used the the catenary wire of main cable for one leg and connected the other leg to the wire fence. A quick-&-dirty fix.

The moral of the story: the crazy old lady may be crazy, but that doesn't mean she's wrong!

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