Saturday, September 17, 2011

Telephone Poles, a Fading Memory

It’s kind of sad how quickly we forget the old high tech stuff that served us so well. Then one day you see a remnant of it standing alone, out of the way, neglected and forgotten. I’m talking about the telephone poles and their endless miles of wire and blue glass insulators decorating the cross bars of every pole.

I remember when growing up our phones didn’t have a rotary dial to dial the number, you just picked up the phone and talked to the operator who you gave the number to for the person you wanted to call. She then would physically take your phone wire and plug it into the socket of the person you wanted to talk with. I still remember our phone number from back then, it was “Elmhurst 548M”, Elmhurst was the name of the town we lived in 548M was the number, that was it and there was no area code back then.

Soon after that came the really high tech stuff, the rotary dial where you didn’t need the operator, you could just dial the number yourself. We also had what was called “Party Lines” where several people had to share the same line or wire for all our calls. Yes you had to wait until the other person was finished before you could make your call. That would never work today!

After the rotary dial came push button dialing and it continues today. I don’t know for how long as cell phones, video calling and voice recognition are the next evolution.

I used to drive south to Ocala, Florida from North Florida twice a month on route 301 which was the major 4-lane north south route through the center of Florida before Interstate 75. It is a very pleasant and scenic drive today. For a few miles along the way stands 15-20 old abandoned telephone poles. I stopped and snapped a few shots of them before they’re gone forever. These poles are next to the railroad tracks that parallel 301 for most of the trip. As you can see it doesn’t take Mother Nature long to reclaim what was hers to begin with.

Hope you enjoy these few (not so good) photos of yesterday’s technology!


  1. My mom used to be a switchboard operator for the phone company. We used to have a party line at our summer camp. Everyone used to listen in to our calls. My dad was talking to his brother and they both switched to talking French. They could hear all the clicks as people hung up their phones.

    301 is a nice drive. Use it to get to my dad's place in FL.

  2. Mike, This post would make for a good submission to Reminisce Magazine (

    We had a party line years ago but never had to place calls through a switchboard operator. In fact when on the party line, our number had only five digits. My husband and I are always on the lookout for an old black heavy dial phone which we'd love to be able to use; one of these days we'll find one, I hope.

    We do keep an older (80's style) non-electric dial phone in a cupboard, though, for when the power goes out! (Now I'm thinking I should do a post about this...) These are easily found at your local Goodwill store for not more than a couple dollars.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures,


  3. Six,
    My sister was also an operator back then.

    I also have an old phone on the shelf just incase a disaster wipes my phone line out and I need to use a phone line that's not mine. That old phone will plug into any outside connection box.

  4. Mike - nice to visit you here at your blog. we, too, have an older phone for just in case.

    those pics are beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time - i really enjoyed them. thank you!


  5. Anyone else remember that old twilight zone episode where telephone poles play a part? That's what these poles reminded me of. Cool photos.

  6. Kymber,
    Thanks for stoping by!

    Victoria and Kymber,
    It won't be long and vines will be growing on our cell phones.
    However, before they're gone I hope someone makes a cell phone with a rotary dial just for fun! :-)


Your thoughts are welcome!