Dec 14-08

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2008: December: Dec 14-08
Early Phone Support    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo from the Archives

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 11:59 pm:

Whew! Didn't think we would make it before midnight.

It reminds me of one December in the early years, when we got so busy packing pasties that it was just a few minutes before midnight when the update occurred. Today is even closer.

This week's Shoebox Memory was originally scheduled to be the final chapter of the Pasty Central Story that we started in November. It will have to wait until next week, because of some new developments. That's what we get for trying to tell a story before it is over.

Instead, we mark the anniversary of phone service between Houghton and Calumet, mentioned in a Pasty Cameo earlier this year, in case you missed it.

We do quite a bit of phone support at the Pasty.NET help desk these days, with our expansion into remote areas of Marquette County. Technical support has a proud tradition that dates back to medieval days. (note the English subtitles)

Sorry for the delay in today's Shoebox Memory. Better late than never.

Have a good week :o)

By Daveofmohawk (Daveofmohawk) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 12:15 am:

The good old days when you picked up your phone and the operator said "number please". I guess I'm admitting my age. All of our local numbers were four digits with no preface. Amazingly I can still remember my grand-parents phone number in Tamarack Location, it was 1018.

By Martha Kirk (Misschiefie) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 05:08 am:

Charlie, the medieval tech support spot is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time! Sometimes I do wish for the old days when there would only be maybe one new technological invention in your whole lifetime, so when you learned to feed the horse you'd know how to feed every horse after that, and didn't need to worry whether the "filler door" was on the left or right side of the horse. And all the clothes for all your life had one wash cycle: beat on rock in cold water. And if you learned to write, it was with a quill pen for your whole life, not pencil to pen to typewriter to computer keyboard to voice activated whatever. When you think about it, we've all wasted a lot of time in our lives learning how to do things and run things that are now obsolete. I was so proud when I learned to tie my shoes, and now they all have velcro!

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 07:28 am:

I agree: the video was great. Looks just like me when I got my first computer.

By Gloptmike (Gloptmike) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 08:02 am:

My parents number was 848. I believe the Levque Insurance Agency in Calumet Phone number was "1".

By Cindy Pihlaja Russell (Gone2long) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 08:12 am:

We had a party line back in those days and our number was 211 on the party line.

By John Preisler (Jpreisler) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 08:42 am:

So did that ring two long and one short?

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 08:51 am:

I believe our number was 92J in Hubbell. Last week I drove 3 to Toledo, 26 miles and all of them were on the text message mode for the complete trip..good thing we stopped at Mickey D's on the way back to get to talk with them........

By Dale Beitz (Dbeitz) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 09:02 am:

The medieval tech support video was good, but my favorite still has to be the stone age tech support story, which dates back to times when primitive tribesmen beat out a rhythm on drums to communicate:

G: Fire help. Me Groog
L: Me Lorto. Help. Fire not work.
G: You have flint and stone?
L: Ugh.
G: You hit them together?
L: Ugh.
G: What happen?
L: Fire not work.
G: (sigh) Make spark?
L: No spark, no fire, me confused. Fire work yesterday.
G: (sigh) You change rock?
L: I change nothing.
G: You sure?
L: Me make one change. Stone hot so me soak in stream so stone not burn Lorto hand. Only small change, shouldn’t keep Lorto from make fire.

Groog grabs club and goes to Lorto’s cave. * WHAM * WHAM * WHAM *

Which just goes to prove that sometimes the correct answer to a tech support problem is to delete the user.

By Richard L. Barclay (Notroll) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 09:22 am:

I lived in the Big Bay depot as my father was working for the railroad and we had a line for the railroad business. There was another phone in the Big Bay Inn that was run by the Claus family at that time (early fifties) and one in the Birch station.The operator in Marquette would plug us in to the rest of the world but the phone was for railroad business and I don't remember anyone but my dad using it. There was a crank magneto that would ring all the bells at the different locations and each phone would have its own ring. I remember one extra long ring would get the operator in Marquette and I think a single ring may have been ours at the depot. I could reach up to take down the receiver but was too short to speak into the separate mouthpiece without a chair to stand on. That may have been what spurred my growth later in life to be the height I am now.

By Dorothy Stewart (Bootjackbabe) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 09:58 am:

Yikes-----woke up to a good old fashioned snow storm here in Bootjack. Can't see across the road.
Winds are really blowing and every window in the house is covered with snow---a white out.!! Didn't have to decorate the windows for this one--nature did it for me.
Can also remember my old phone number--2144- and my friend had a party line with 654-J. Isn't it amazing how we can remember those numbers. Our neighbor was a phone operator and knew when we were making a call. We didn't get away with much in those days!!! I can also remember listening to other people talk on the phone---we were not suppose to do this, but it was so tempting!!!!I was yelled at several times to "get off the phone".
PS> Hello to Lulu in Denver---heard you have some chilly yooper temps. today.!!See where your Vegas is even getting some snow!!!
Merry Christmas, we will definitely have a white one here in paradise.

By mickill mouse (Ram4) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 10:28 am:

It is almost 50 degrees here and the snow is melted, but it is very windy. I am surprised the power has not gone out yet. It went out a few days ago for about 3 hours. The electric co. said it was from 'equipment failure.' One time a squirrel got into the sub-station and lets just say, for the sake of not getting this one posted, that the little feller' did not make it out alive.

By Donald R. Elzinga (Donagain) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 10:51 am:

In the Navy in the early 50s I called home to Maquette from one of those armed services centers that allowed free long distance. The operator asked for the number and I said "51"! She asked "What kind of a hick town is that?"

By Theresa R. Brunk (Trb0013) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 11:16 am:

My Parents number in the Soo was Melrose 6549. It was the first number I remembered. Later it was 632-6549. In my childs mind I thought when they got on the phone to call someone, that the operators name was 'Melrose'. ...Melrose, 1342 please.

By Jim Nicholas (Jimn) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 11:22 am:


By Helen (Heleninhubbel) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 11:43 am:

My # was BR 30134 ...... I grew up in West Detroit.....BR is for Broadway. Grandma's was WE for Webster and my Armenian Grand parents in Highland Park was TY for Tyler....can't remember their long ago!!!

Gee Charlie....your human side is showing !!!! lol.

God's Blessings to everyone especially this time of year. My wish is that each of you know Jesus personally........he is the Best!!

By Carole (Carole) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 12:51 pm:

I remember our phone number in Detroit was
FO 6-1597 (FO stood for Forest).

By JoAnne, Washington State (Davejostef) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 01:26 pm:

Isn't that funny? I can remember my phone number from Detroit as well, KEnwood7-0462 and that was 30+ years ago. Think I can remember what I had for lunch just yesterday? LOL

By Steve Haagen (Radsrh) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 01:41 pm:

Where did the bridge go?

By Richard Wieber (Dickingrayling) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 03:01 pm:

Back in the thirtys my dad's business phones in Houghton were 50 and 51. Our number at home was 1203, my neighbor's number was 1508. Like JoAnne said I can't remember yesterday but remember those phone numbers. In thr early 1950s I drove cab at night in Houghton and would often pick up phone operators when their shift ended about 11:00pm. They often talked about getting tired of asking "number please" and would say other things such as "bumble bees" or rubber knees. Folks seldom heard the difference.

By FRNash/PHX, AZ (Frnash) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 03:40 pm:

I remember, after several decades with no phone at all, when the first phone on my grandparents' farm in Bruces Crossing was one of those "wooden box on the wall" party line contraptions, with the attached mouthpiece and separate receiver hanging on the switchhook, and a crank magneto that would ring all the bells at the different locations ...

That probably was in the mid to late 1940's, I don't recall for sure. I have been trying for some time now, without success to recall when the telephone first arrived in 'Ruces 'Rossing, although I see by the OCTC web site that the dial exchange arrived there in 1949.

Does anyone here know for certain?

I really thought it was quite a throwback, coming from Detroit to spend six years at Michigan Tech in the late 1950's and graduating in June of 1964, all the while with a manual telephone system still in place in Houghton, Hancock, and the rest of the Keweenaw, while the MTU campus already had its own dial PBX system! All the more incongruous given the Copper Country's early adoption of the telephone just shortly after its invention: In Ontonagon County (Rockland) in 1877 and five years later in Houghton in 1882, as noted in the cameo!

I also spent some time as a backup telephone operator at da Tech's switchboard while there, working with their then chief operator, Betty Smallwood, who told many tales of working at Ma Bell's switchboard in Houghton. She even arranged a tour of that Michigan Bell facility, with a side entrance on a long green covered walkway south of Shelden Avenue, along the east side of the building (which side street I do not recall). I will tell you that Ma Bell's local Houghton facility in that era looked almost exactly like the ones shown in the last 1:14 to 1:00 in the cameo!

Richard Wieber (Dickingrayling):
"…I drove cab at night in Houghton and would often pick up phone operators when their shift ended about 11:00pm."

By chance, do you remember which side street that green Michigan Bell walkway was on?
Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 06:00 pm:

My phone number in Midland was TEmple 2-8664. Anybody
remember when you wanted the correct time, you dialed 1-1-6?

By Richard Wieber (Dickingrayling) on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - 07:16 am:

Frnash I can't remember the name of the street but the Ford garage was across the street to the east. The phone company was across Sheldon Ave from what was called the Community Building, which later had a cop shop in it. See what I mean. Can remember the phone numbers but not the street name. I "think" the street was Portage St.

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