A Telephone!

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, May 7, 1911: Went to Sunday school this afternoon. Saw M.C.R. I went over to Stout’s this evening. Carrie wanted me to try their new telephone but I wouldn’t do it. Besse and Curt were out this evening. 

 Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Today feels like a milestone was reached in the diary. So many days Grandma’s life moves forward in rather routine, predictable ways—but a hundred years ago today Grandma apparently had her first opportunity to use a telephone—though she declined because the new technology evidently intimidated her.

I’m surprised that Grandma had never previously used a phone. According to George Wesner in his 1976 History of ‘McEwensville:

“Around the turn of the century there were two telephones in the town. The Bell was at Watson’s Store and at the home of Armstrong’s. Later phones were installed at the Gearhart Foundry, A. & C. Mauser’s carriage works and the J.G. Smith’s residence. A number of years later, the West Branch Bell Telephone Company began operations and built lines throughout the area.”

I love how phones came into the McEwensville area so slowly that Mr. Wesner could name exactly who had the first ones when he wrote his history almost two-thirds of a century later. It must have been very prestigious to own a phone in that era.

Initials

Throughout the diary Grandma often used initials rather than names to identify guys she liked, so I assume that M.C.R. was someone who Grandma thought was cute. She apparently was concerned that her mother or sister would read her diary, so often tried to mask the names—though it seems to me that if family members were reading the diary that they would have been able to decipher the initials.

4 Responses

  1. I am so happy to still have our phone, from the family farm in Iowa, just like the photo. My daughter will keep it in the family! ;-)

    • Cool! So many things have become almost disposable in today’s world, it’s great that you still have this family heirloom.

  2. [...] yesterday’s entry Grandma went to see her friend Carrie Stout’s new telephone—but apparently was too nervous to [...]

  3. [...] interesting how the telephone has gone from being a new curiosity that Grandma was afraid to try less than a month ago to a tool that she uses to call her married sister [...]

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