Reinhardt Family History

Memories of Eggs and Chickens

Stories from Neil Reinhardt

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Memories
of Eggs & Chickens

The Telephone

The Party Line Telephone in the country, was mounted on the wall. It took as much space as a pendulum clock. To place a call, a crank was turned to get the operator. With a little luck the call could be completed. With ten parties on the party line, it was hard to complete a call, and sometimes just hard to hear.

Everyone on the party line had a code of rings so that they would know when to answer the phone....1 long and 1 short ring, 2 long rings, two short rings, one long and three short rings, etc. Everyone on the party line received all the rings. Anytime the neighborhood gossip heard the phone ring, she hurried to get the latest gossip by listening to the conversation.

If someone had an emergency call to make, they just asked for the use of the line. The phone in the house on Reinhardt Road was mounted on the kitchen wall. Two large fuses, to protect it from lightning bolt damage, were mounted above it. The fuses were concealed in a cigar box, and the box was papered with wallpaper to match the wallpaper on the wall. Now it is hard to get the use of the phone when a teenager is a member of the household, but imagine us, with five teenage daughters, and a ten party line telephone. Their calls were limited to five minutes.

Em didn't like thunderstorms. She woke me one night from a sound sleep, after a hard days work on the farm. I listened a minute and could hear a rumble in the distance. I said 'The storm is a long way off' and went back to sleep. I was next awakened by a crash that shook the house. It seemed I was running before my feet were on the floor.

With no electricity because of the storm, I stumbled over the furniture on the way to the kitchen. I was greeted with the smell of smoke, and as I entered the kitchen something jabbed me in the foot. When Em arrived with the flashlight, she found me hopping on one foot with a piece of a cigar box on the other. The cigar box that had covered the fuses for the telephone, was now nailed to the bottom of my foot. Lightning had struck a tree 1/4 mile away, then traveled by the phone lines into the kitchen, where it had blown the cigar box apart.