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Fences and Phones



Trivia Question

Who sang the 1952 No. 1 song Wheel of Fortune?


Fences and Phones

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One of the bits of trivia in this issue's This Week in History segment highlights the popular 1950s movie, Pillow Talk, which is about a feud that erupts over the use of party-line telephones. My kids don't understand the reference to a "party line" or why it would cause someone so much frustration. But I do!

Growing up, we had a telephone party line that included two of our neighbors in our small town. Ruth and Bob lived across the street and were a quiet, older couple with an adult son living at home. None of them were high-volume phone users. Rollie and Bea lived next door to us, and while Rollie wasn't on the phone much, his wife made up for it. It seemed every time my mom and I (the biggest phone patrons in our family) lifted the receiver on our olive green kitchen phone, there was Bea's voice, with her sweet, slightly Southern accent, discussing a recipe or a recent event with a friend. We would politely and gingerly hang up and then wait a few minutes before trying again to make a call. But there we were, caught in an aggravating routine -- lift, listen, lower, repeat -- for what could be an hour. By then, the "politely" and "gingerly" part of the process was wearing thin. Mom and Bea got along quite well, but the party-line issue was a sticking point in their relationship, at least for Mom.

Once, when she needed to make an urgent call and Bea was in the middle of a lengthy session, Mom hit her limit and took unprecedented action. "Mary Beth," she said to me in an exasperated tone, "head on over there and tell Bea that I really need to use the phone." Off I trotted across the two driveways to deliver the message. Bea complied, my mom made the call, and all was well. But as soon as the single-line phone option was offered by the telephone company, my mom, who usually went the cheapest route for everything, jumped all over the opportunity to have a more expensive private line. "Good fences make good neighbors," she told me, "and so do private phone lines."

'Til next time,

Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine

PS. Did you have a party-line phone line in your Good Old Days? Did it ever cause a problem? We want to hear about it! Send a brief response to me at Editor@GoodOldDaysMagazine.com, and it could appear in a future update or in Good Old Days magazine! What reminds you of your grandparents? A song? An event?

Jeanette Russell shared: "When I look in the mirror, I can see each of my four grandparents somewhere in my face. But the most notable features are from my dad's side, and each time I smile, as the skin on both cheeks are pushed back and they begin to resemble a freckled Sharpei dog, I see my dad's mom every time."

Juli Dierks responded: "A metal candy tin sits in my home, and every time I see it, I smile. One could hardly call it beautiful by today's standards of decor, but it is gloriously vintage with black and gold vines that wrap around its odd octagon shape. My grandmother kept it on her sideboard, and it was always full. This is one of the cherished items I claimed when my grandparents' things were distributed. Back then, its contents fluctuated between chocolate drops (the type you deviously pushed on the bottom to peek at what flavor was inside) or large orange Circus Peanuts candy. The airtight lid pops loudly when opened, making it nearly impossible to sneak out any of its contents. Keeping tradition alive, today it contains the same type of chocolate-drop candy my grandmother had, and if you inspect each piece you might find one with a pushed-in bottom."


Mary Beth Weisenburger has been with Annie's since April 2011. She has 25 years of experience in the marketing, advertising and publishing fields. In addition to her job as editor of Good Old Days, she has been writing a family humor column for over a decade. She and her husband, two college-age kids, two dogs and various other critters live on five acres in the country, where she enjoys reading on the back porch, refinishing furniture, feeding the birds and digging in the dirt of her perennial gardens.


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Trivia Answer

Kay Starr. The song stayed at No. 1 on the pop charts for 10 weeks.

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