Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

Remembering the change over to dial-up telephone service

(Emmitsburg Chronicle Friday January 8, 1954)

Dial phone service in Emmitsburg will go officially into effect on Wednesday morning, January 27 at 7:00 a.m., it was learned this week. The date was set this summer as tentative however this week Roger Heck, local telephone manger received a confirmation that dial would be in readiness, for the official opening of the new service on the 27th as all work was completed as scheduled.  Installation crews have been work since early summer and the conversion is about complete.  Practically all outside cable has been strung and inside crews are putting the finishing touches on the “brain” of ‘the dial equipment located in the newly erected building at the intersection of Potomac St. and Chesapeake Ave.

Most Emmitsburgians have taken the conversion rather complacently and telephone officials save expressed gratification at the cooperation of the populace during the changing-over period.  One source of trouble has developed to hamper the work of installing crews and that is those customers trying to use the dial instrument now installed alongside the old phone. Officials say interference bas been bothering the installation crews and operators by customers trying to use the dial instrument. It was explained that customers can hear the operator but the operator can’t hear the customer and that when the dial instrument is picked up it breaks the connection of the line to the old instrument, thereby throwing it temporarily out of service. It was learned that a good many children have been playing with the new instruments, causing interference with operations.

Mr. Heck reports that many new patrons have been acquired since the installation begun several months ago and expresses the belief that many more will apply once the newly-expanded service it put into effect. A spokesman for the utility said that an “open house” would be held at the new building in the near future and the public will be invited to see the new equipment work and an explanation of its complicated mechanisms will be offered. Emits burg now has around 600 phones in use and immediately following the change-over on Jan. 27 the old instruments will be removed.” Customers will then pay the bills at the local bank. 

C&P Phone Project Here is Costly

(Emmitsburg Chronicle Friday January 15, 1954)

About $158.000 has been spent in providing the Emmitsburg District with dial telephone service; it was disclosed this week by a telephone company representative, Mr. Walter Lanius, commercial manager of Frederick.  The primary allotment for the project was not that high Mr. Lanius explained, but when different items cropped up that would add to better service, they were inserted into the original plans at additional cost.

Under plans confirmed last week by company officials, the local manual exchange will pass out of existence on January 27 and Emmitsburg will be put in line with other cities in Improvement local and long distance service. Two new exchanges have been created, those of Hillcrest, really Emmitsburg, and Hubbard, the old Tract Road Line. It was explained that patrons are not to dial the first two letters of the exchange, but to dial only, the last five digits. The call will go through, however, if the first two letters are dialed before the numerals, because selectors have been plugged to skip over the letters at the new exchange building which houses the “brain” of he dial equipment. The new building has been constructed and is located at the intersection’ old Potomac St. and Chesapeake Ave.

Mr. Roger P. Heck, local manger, announced that all outside cable has been installed and that the cut-over to dial service will take place at 7 a.m., on the morning of January 27. Patrons who are about to call at that time, say about 15 minutes to 7 o’clock, are asked to delay the call until after the deadline 7 o’clock, as all calls will be cut off for a short period at the time for testing.

Following the cut-over customers will pay their phone bills at the Farmers State Bank.  Officials explained that all town patrons would have only one ring their own, under the new system, and that rural customers, which at times had as many as 2 rings, would now have to contend ‘with only one additional ring besides their own, regardless of the number of subscribers on the line. Local phone operators all have been offered employment by the company.

Emmitsburg now has about 600 phones in use and the old instruments will be taken out just as soon as possible after January 7. Patrons are asked to refrain from using the new dial instrument now in the homes and businesses as it interferes with installation crews at the new exchange building, who are currently installing and testing lines.

 Dial Phone Operate Wednesday

(Emmitsburg Chronicle Friday January 22, 1954)

After watching installation crews busy themselves during the past year, Emmitsburgians are anxiously awaiting the initial dial phone service to begin next Wednesday morning at ‘ a.m. Mr. Roger P. Heck local manager of the communications utility, has asked that patrons refrain from using their instruments for a period of about minutes before the deadline because testing crews will be engaged at that time in to insure a quiet transition to the dial system.

New local phone directories were distributed to subscribers this week and all is in readiness for the change-over Wednesday morning when over 600 patrons, anxiously, awaiting the new service will begin use of the dial equipment. Mr. Heck stated that an “open house” will be held at the new exchange located at the intersection of Chesapeake Ave. and Potomac St., on Feb. 4 and 5, and that the public is cordially invited to witness the complicated mechanisms in action. Schools have been invited to send classes to observe the new equipment in service.

By way of explanation as to the use of the new dial instrument, officials say that it is not necessary to dial the first few letters of the two local exchanges, Hillcrest and Hubbard, but that if you do, it will not affect the call and it will he transmitted. The action was termed superfluous. However, when dialing for long distance the exchange letters must be given.

The old instruments and magneto boxes will be removed just as soon as possible after the change over, in fact, some will be taken out the same day and the removal will be continued until all have been removed. Company officials revealed that informative literature as to the use of the new instrument and service has been distributed, and that if anyone has been missed to contact the local manager who will accommodate them with the required information. 

Expansion and improvement of telephone service in rural areas of Maryland continued in 1953 with a net gain of 6,700 telephones in areas served by the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Baltimore City. Total telephones in rural areas now stand at an all-time high of 75,000. In 1945 only three out of 10 of the farms and other establishments had service, while during 1953; seven out of 10 had telephones.

Families with service in the entire state also amount to seven out of 10 including those in metropolitan centers.  For new plant and equipment o serve rural areas, expenditures of nearly $3,000,000 were made in 1953. The total spent since 1945 for such purposes amounts to almost $18,000,000 providing for 2˝ times as many telephones in rural areas during the same period.

The number of subscribers waiting for service in rural areas has substantially reduced during the year and as of January 1, 1954; there were only 117 in Western Maryland. In the Emmitsburg area, Roger P. Heck, local manager pointed out there are a number of applicants in rural areas waiting for telephones.  One of C. and P.’s outstanding rural line service accomplishments during recent years has been in the reduction of the number of customers per line.

Dial Service Still Going Smoothly

(Emmitsburg Chronicle February 1954)

Mrs. Sullivan confesses, “There weren’t many telephones and there weren’t many calls and a lot of the time we had time on our hands.”  That idyllic existence change rub the years, though, as more rid more phones were put into service as the demand increased. Eventually the one panel board which had served for many years had to be increased in size and another panel was added.

Through the years, as business increased; Emmitsburg remained an “agency office,” that is Mrs. Sullivan, hired, aided, handled business and was reimbursed by the telephone company. Only last year did the office become a company own, with the company paying operators directly and employment the young ladies who handled the exchange.

Through the past 40 years, Mrs. Sullivan has trained innumerable operators. Among the first she employed, was a young lady, who later became the wife of Mayor Thornton W. Rodgers.

At the time of the change-over last week to dial, six operators were employed at the exchange.  They were Mrs. Francis Sanders, Lucy R. Bollinger, Inus J. Glass, Betty Ann Glass, Margaret V. Bouey and Darlene J. Brewer.  Marian E. Boyle acted as a relief operator. With the dial system working, the old personal contact between operators and subscribers has terminated a pleasant relationship which began 72 years ago when the first telephone came to Emmitsburg. 

Have your own memories of Emmitsburg's Telephone System?
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net