Phone numbers in Model T days

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2014: Phone numbers in Model T days
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Justin Heim on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 12:28 pm:

So as to not hijack the thread of that great truck of John's, I want to give some reasoning for my interest in old phone numbers and how they worked (pre-automation in reference to what Burger discussed).

The picture below shows what was painted on the side of my C cab. When the farm was auctioned off in 1994, my father found the original name stencil of my great-great uncle used for the truck and is shown sitting on the roof. At the bottom of all of it is the wording "Bell Phone" and the number is below that. The number wasn't completely legible on either side. I could make out a couple of them but not all. It almost looked like a five digit number but I can't be sure. I would like to put all of the information back on the cab using the stencil for the name and adding the other information (but a little more neatly). If I can get an indication of how the number may have looked at the time, I may be able to get it accurate but it seems that it will all depend on how the numbers ran in rural Mars, PA at the time.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 01:09 pm:

That's correct. Numbering varied from system to system. Check with local libraries and museums. You may get lucky and find an old directory with your number listed.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dick Lodge - St Louis MO on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 01:12 pm:

Justin, I would contact these people and see if they don't have some old Mars phone directories from that period.

http://www.marsarealibrary.org/

I have found a great deal of stuff about the 1920s at my local library.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dick Lodge - St Louis MO on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 01:14 pm:

I think that, with the exception of politics, Steve and I often think very similarly. Must be an "old guy" thing.... :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Kopsky, Lytle TX on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 01:23 pm:

It says "Bell Phone" so they were using the Bell system.

Here's another lead.

http://marshistory.org/


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Georgetown TX on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 02:11 pm:

Before phone books there were city directories. Most cities kept them through the 1970's, they were often given to the local library when they became obsolete. A city directory from one of the years your relative was there would have a description of the business, the address, and the phone number.

Call your library as has been suggested and ask what year city directories they have. You may find out a lot.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Justin Heim on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 02:15 pm:

It looks like I'll have to go to Mars to find the information. There appears to be a good museum there. I've been to the farm recently and it is all million dollar homes on huge lots. I sure miss how it was when I visited and hunted there as a kid. That farm was like going back 100 years. Even in the early '90's they still heated the farm house with just a combination wood/coal stove and used an outhouse. Sometimes I take a whiff of the old upholstery that I took out of the C cab and let all of the memories come back.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ricks - Surf City on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 02:34 pm:

My uncle Ed Ricks had a car repair shop in Jefferson, Oregon. He said his phone number was 244 for: two wives, 4 kids each. It was true.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Burger in Spokane on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 02:59 pm:

I can see the headline now:

Man plans to take old Model T truck to Mars ! :-)

The above suggestions are spot on. Justin, I'd sure like to see a side photo of your truck. Mine will ultimately get some
sort of phone company lettering, but that is down the road.

In reference to the "Bell Phone", it seems odd that the "Bell" part was considered relevant enough to letter it onto the truck.
What difference would that have made ???

But, to cover some oft-overlooked phone history, while A.G. Bell may have been a pioneer in the phone development and
industry, the idea took off from the point of a novelty to become something of an intercom, evolving into a small external
systems, maybe within a company's plant area or an exchange within a town or area of a city. In 1888, after much research
and development, Bell's AM. TEL. & TEL Co. opened up service on the Long Lines system, connecting whatever local phone
systems wished to join in to create a much larger network that ultimately spanned the country. This is where AT&T became
the big player we know them as.

But backing up a step, all those 1000's of local phone companies across the country, prior to Bell's conglomeration, were
largely independents and Mom-n-Pop outfits, much like they had water companies and power companies. Many were family
businesses. Many survived well into the 1970's.

Another fascinating aspect of that organic time was the "farmer line". Basically, when someone outside a given exchange
system wished to connect to the system, they were required to build their own line to a point of connection dictated by the
local phone company. These lines were often hashed together in the most primitive manner ... anything to carry the wires.
When we see old photos of our T's in rural areas, we often see these botch-job phone lines with little more than large sticks
for poles with any type of insulator the builder could get his hands on. I have photos of the broken off necks of whiskey
bottles being used !

Very much in that "basic" mentality that T's were created and operated, our early phone systems were spindly technology
with a lot of character too. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 03:09 pm:

Have you tried perhaps a little light oil on a rag wiped over the surface? Might bring something out. Just don't use solvent!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dick Lodge - St Louis MO on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 03:30 pm:

Burger, don't know about Mars, but when my mom was a kid in St. Louis (1907+), there were two phone systems in the city, Bell and Kinloch. Since Bell phones couldn't call Kinloch phones and vice versa, business generally had one of each. Any phone number listing specified which kind of phone.

http://books.google.com/books?id=CsU9AQAAMAAJ&pg=RA2-PA7&lpg=RA2-PA7&dq=bell+kin loch+phones&source=bl&ots=KWBwnsAk0u&sig=1qsNW_BVnkcW2RgSSU5tpLSURbU&hl=en&sa=X& ei=YrdnVM5nxpzKBOC1gpAM&ved=0CCkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=bell%20kinloch%20phones&f=fa lse


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Burger in Spokane on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 03:48 pm:

Interesting intel, Dick. I had not thought of that.

I have read of a "Printing Phone" system that did not interface with the common (shall I call it "Bell" type ?) system,
but that was an early system that died out way back.

Sounds like as good of an explanation as any ! :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Burger in Spokane on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 03:50 pm:

Just as a matter of reference for our readership here, if you wish to identify any old telephone insulators or other line hardware,
I will be happy to tell you all you want to know about it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Justin Heim on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 03:55 pm:

Charlie, I tried that and a few other things to try and get a good view of it but eventually had to blast it off. The cab, as it sits today, is on my profile (the lamps need painted yet).

From one of the sites noted above, I see that Mars has a decent early car show once a year. I'll have to take it down when it is roadworthy. On a side note, I knew a woman who was born and raised in Mars and lived the rest of her life in Venus (PA) which is just up the road from Oil City where I live now.

Currently, I'm trying to find someone who can do hand painting to put the information back on. While I appreciate the crudeness of the original painting, I would like to have a little better looking job on it but I will still have Uncle Jake's name put on with the stencil as it was originally. When that gets done I'll post a picture. I'm putting the roof covering on now but I'm afraid that it is a little too cold to do the final tacking.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 08:19 pm:

Pretty cool Justin that you have that stencil. You can't get more original than that on a restoration. Those of you who like old phones (and who doesn't), should know that A.G. Graham's house where the telephone was invented is still standing and is now a museum. It's just 20 miles down the road from me in Brantford Ontario if you are ever up this way.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Donnie Brown North Central Arkansas on Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 12:04 am:

Justin, Im a stickler for the little details. I would copy the letters just as they are., but that is just me being a stickler ... :-) :-)

PS at least make a stencil/pattern of them as-is, So if you ever decide to put them back as they were, you will have a pattern. Once they are gone "they are gone"


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Seth - Ohio on Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 08:26 am:

Justin,

When you get the truck done you need to take it to the town square in Mars and get a photograph of it next to the flying saucer. (I'm originally from Butler, PA)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Justin Heim on Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 09:03 am:

Dennis, I'll have to do that. For those who haven't seen the world famous Mars space ship, here it is.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Herb Iffrig on Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 01:37 pm:

I have a stencil similar to the JG HUTCH one. Mine says JP IFFRIG on it. My dad told me that his dad used it to stencil his name, Joseph Peter Iffrig on the BEMIS cloth sacks of wheat that were taken to the elevator and sold. The threshing machine had a sacker on it that measured out two bushel of wheat and then tripped and rang a bell so that a man could change the full sack for another one. The stenciled name on the bag allowed the farmer to get his own bag back.


My vote would be to go with the original scheme of things on the truck. Perhaps this stencil was the only letters JG HUTCH had to identify his things and just hand lettered the rest.
It will make a better story.:-)

Herb


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John H. Nichols on Monday, November 17, 2014 - 07:51 pm:

Not to change directions on Mars and Phones, etc
but in 1964 when I was going through the US Army Airframe Repair Course, Ft Eustis, VA, the last two weeks was spent reassembling 2 parts of one of the Avro Cars manufactured in Canada. Those who are aviation buffs probably knows about these flying saucers that almost didn't fly over rough Terrain.

Any hoo, when I returned to Ft Eustis in 1978, I took a trip to the post museum and their it was
mounted on three poles at an angle about 6 feet off the ground.

The engine in the Avro Car was a Lycoming T-53-L11 turbine the same as was used in the Huey UH-1A.

John


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