From Pipi’s Pasture: It boggles the mind
My father, the late Kenneth Osborn, had a favorite saying. “It boggles the mind” is what he used to say when something happened that was unexpected or unbelievable. Surely he would be saying that a lot now with all of the computers and tablets, cell phones, and other such technologies that are commonplace in today’s world.
When my sisters, Charlotte and Darlene, and I were growing up on the ranch (our brother Duane came along some years later), we didn’t have a phone or television. In fact, when I was real young we didn’t even have electricity. The house wasn’t wired for electricity until sometime in the 50s. Until that time we used coal stoves to heat the house and to cook. We used coal oil lights at night. I can’t remember what we used for refrigeration, though I do remember that we rented a locker at a grocery store in Craig to keep frozen meat. We used an outhouse—no such thing as a bathroom.
My memories concerning the dates that we got modern conveniences are fuzzy, but I do remember the first telephone. I was about fourteen when the community families attempted to get a phone line. The telephone company didn’t provide the service to rural communities at that time, but families in the Morapos and Deer Creek communities got together with the telephone officials and came up with an agreement. The phone company would provide a party line service if the residents agreed to build and maintain the line. The service was for about seven to nine families, but not that many residents at Morapos/ Deer Creek wanted to sign on so two families from Williams Fork joined up.
Imagine what a job it was to build the phone line, installing posts and wire and whatever else over hills and through thickets of trees and brush. The finished line ran from Morapos and Deer Creek to the Breeze Basin area, near the Craig Airport.
It was a party line which means that if a person picked up the phone and someone else was on it, you could hear everything that was said, and you couldn’t use the phone if anyone else was on it. For some reason (I don’t understand why), two families were paired up, meaning that we heard one another’s rings. We heard Uncle Bill’s one ring in addition to our own two rings.
To say that a party line was kind of a mess is “to put it mildly.” Today most people use cell phones so when they need to call somebody, they pull the phones out of their pockets and push buttons. They count on a dial tone. It wasn’t so easy with a party line. If you needed to use the phone and somebody was already using it, you had to wait—sometimes awhile.
I remember that sometimes men in the community, who hadn’t signed on for phone service, came to our house to use the phone for some important business, such as calling about a tractor part or to get advice from a veterinarian. Often the phone was busy, and the men weren’t so nice to people using it. Listening in to others’ conversations was common, too. People learned how to lift the receiver very carefully, listen to gossip, and learn about secrets and business matters. It boggles the mind.
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