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April 25, 2014

Points East: Manners were paramount on the Party Line

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Well, if it did nothing else, last week’s column on the perils of party line telephone service, back in the day, certainly stirred up a lot of Facebook chatter and a bunch of both snail mail and email, some of it from parts unknown.  For instance I have no idea where Battlefield, Ky. is located, nor Asher, Ky. and Google has, so far, been less than helpful. But I had correspondence from both places from readers who wanted to share party line experiences.

So much so, that the column needs a follow-up. 

One fellow wrote to say that eavesdropping was considered the ultimate in bad manners and bad taste.  He said that being accused of eavesdropping was an awful insult.  So one day he was on the phone with a relative and he told the person to be careful what they said be cause he thought a certain lady was eavesdropping. 

Sure enough, she came on the line and informed them, “I am not eavesdropping, I just wanted to see what you fellers was talking about.”

Another writer said she was on the phone with a friend in another town and mentioned that she thought a certain woman was eavesdropping, and that person came on the line to tell them that she was “doing no such thing and that’s the way lies got spread.”

A friend in Letcher County said her brother was on the phone with his girlfriend and he told her he thought somebody was eavesdropping and their neighbor popped up and said, Well, it shore ain’t me!”

The fellow from Battlefield said that a group of about six women would all get on the phone at the same time and prattle on all day so that he could never get to use the phone when he needed to.  He tried politely asking if he could use the phone for just a few minutes and they could have it back. They totally ignored him.

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