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The Forgiving Kind
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Party Lines

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message 1: by Donna (last edited Apr 18, 2019 09:03AM) (new)

Donna Everhart (donnaeverhart) While party lines had been available since the late 1800s, it wasn’t until after World War II that this type of phone service saw rapid growth. The increase in installations led to network congestion, and busy signals, and I’m sure that must have been frustrating to many. In one area of Pennsylvania in 1943, it was encouraged that calls be limited to five minutes to help manage the network traffic. The service was also common in largely unpopulated areas, where individual family homes were spread out, and a “close” neighbor might live miles away.

For all, there were a lot of downfalls however. There was virtually no privacy, and across all households everyone had to stop what they were doing to hear their “special” ringtone, which proved to be very disruptive. There were complaints of eavesdropping which proved to be a source of entertainment and gossip. On the other hand, it could also help in spreading important news about fires in neighborhoods, etc.

Another negative impact were the complaints about individuals who would monopolize the lines for hours on end. While guidelines were in place to try to manage the service, such as if an emergency came up, sometimes the user wouldn’t relinquish the phone line for an emergency call to be made. Maybe they thought it was only a hoax. There may have been enough instances of people declaring an emergency to free up a line, only to find out there wasn’t one. What other reason would there be for the case in Colorado back in 1970, where a sixteen year old girl and a woman were charged for failing to relinquish a line to allow a valid emergency call to be made about three boys drowning in a pond?

In THE FORGIVING KIND, the Creeches use a party line and there are a few scenes in the book that pick up on the emergency use, as well as Sonny interacting with the operator over her phone calls to Daniel.

When you were growing up, did your family happen to have a party line?

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Tammy(PeaceLoveBooks) (tammathau) I grew up in rural Indiana and can remember my parents having a party line aka the gossip line!


message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna Everhart (donnaeverhart) Tammy wrote: "I grew up in rural Indiana and can remember my parents having a party line aka the gossip line!"

Haaaa! Exactly! All I can say is I bet it was fun, BUT could also be BAD if you heard something about yourself, or a family member that shocked you, or that you didn't know, or . . .

Boy, I could've taken that whole idea a LOT farther than I did.


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