Looking back

Service down

Running a phone company in the old days was hard

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 6/23/21

LONG EDDY, NY — In Long Eddy, the phones went down and stayed down, because the tiny local company that ran them had gone bankrupt.

The couple who ran the Delaware and Sullivan Telephone and …

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Looking back

Service down

Running a phone company in the old days was hard

Posted

LONG EDDY, NY — In Long Eddy, the phones went down and stayed down, because the tiny local company that ran them had gone bankrupt.

The couple who ran the Delaware and Sullivan Telephone and Telegraph Company had done their best. The husband worked two jobs, one as the company lineman, and his wife ran the switchboard out of one room in their home. They had 145 subscribers, and a party line cost you $1.50/month.

But it got too expensive, they didn’t want to raise rates, and finally, they were contacted by a lawyer in Poughkeepsie.

The plight of the couple, the phone company and alarmed residents ran in an undated story by the Walton Reporter.

A temporary solution was at hand. Two phone booths outside Henry Doyle’s store, installed by a different company, allowed residents to make calls. They could receive calls, too, but they’d have to know the phone numbers for the public phones, and Doyle would have to answer them, take messages and get the messages to the people.

Residents were scared. The Long Eddy fire company served Fremont Center; what if there was a fire there? How would they call the fire department?  

“If we had a fire now, we’d be out of luck,” said Louis Hoffman, postmaster at Fremont Center, in the story. “We’d have to run five miles into Long Eddy to sound the alarm.”

Delegates from the area were supposed to go to Albany to seek a solution. Given that residents of those communities now have working phones, an answer must have been found. 

Thank you to the Basket Historical Society for the information and a look at the old article.

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