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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Is the Caller There?

Is the Caller There?

Early 20th-century telephone switchboard in British-Mandate Palestine. View full size. American Colony Photo Department. Location not specified although sign in background lists police and ambulance numbers "in Jerusalem."

 

Operator's Stools

Because of the height, the stools (many with with wicker seats and backs) were uncomfortable to get on and off. Operators had to enter from the left, exit from the right. Some offices raised the floor to allow low chairs. The location of the switchboard in each building was known as "The Operating Room." Their lounge was "The Quiet Room."

Is the Caller There?

Thank you Stella,

Cincinnati Bell also had those weird hours. I can remember Mom working 3 to 11, 2 to 10, 6 to 12, 11 to 7 and many other combinations. Some were 8 hours and others 6 hours.

I think what I remember most was the smell of Ozone when you walked in the front door (once you buzzed in the outer door you went in to a locked foyer. There you picked up a phone and gave your employee I.D. and they would buzz you in that door. Then the Ozone smell would hit you. I can smell it now just talking about it.

Mom was an Operator, My Aunt was in Repair Service and her Husband was a Switchman (downstairs where the switch gear was located. Relays would would be clicking and clattering).

Thank you Stella for bringing more memories to light. Mom is now 82. When they closed the local office in Hamilton Ohio (automation and no need for the Operators) she was allowed to have the switchboard number plate and it also matched their house number. It is still mounted on the back porch wall.

Thanks again and the best to you Stella.

Robert Federle
New Iberia, Louisiana

Operators and the old manual cord boards.

Many nice memories of a great job from high school until my first child was born. I worked the split trick and as a night operator. Made many lifelong friends and I remember when the Western Electric men came to the office to add new lines and switchboards. They were all such gentlemen and all good looking. Several of the girls married a Western guy including myself. That was 50 years ago and I still cherish my 10 years with New York Tel.

Upstate NY

Switchboard

THANK YOU FOR THAT WONDERFUL RECOLLECTION!

IS THE CALLER THERE?

I WORKED AT THE JOPLIN SWEST MA BELL IN 1952..JUST OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL...THEN AGAIN IN 1959-62 IN DOWNTOWN KANSAS CITY ..AGAIN FOR S'WESTERN BELL. MOST OF THE OPERATORS WERE A LOT OLDER THAN ME AND SCARED ME TO PIECES ..THE WAY THEY TALKED! NEW OPERATORS GOT THE WORST HOURS...SPLITS LIKE 8 TO 12 ..4 TO 8 OR 9 TO 12 ..6 TO 9.
ALSO 1 TO 9 AND 2 TIL 10..SINCE I LIVED IN INDEPENDENCE, I HAD TO WALK DOWNTOWN TO THE BUS STATION LATE AT NIGHT..
BUT THE BUS DRIVERS WERE WONDERFUL..THEY LET NO ONE MESS AROUND WITH ME..WERE VERY NICE...THESE WERE THE DAYS OF 4 INCH HEELS, A-LINE DRESSES, WHIPPED CREAM MATERIAL, PANTSUITS AND BOUFFANT HAIR..IT WAS WONDERFUL...HAD TO QUIT TO GET MARRIED AND HAVE KIDS...I'M IN MY EARLY 70'S AND I'M STILL A NIGHT OWL AND I'D WORK 11 TO 7 NOW.
I LOVED IT..ESPECIALLY TRACKING DOWN CREDITORS FOR THOSE CREDIT COMPANIES!!HAH
STELLA [S] D.
WISCONSIN .. U.S.A.

TORTURE!

Sitting there, facing a wall ... for what 8 hours a day? Any bathroom breaks allowed? When? And no seat pillows? We've got it made in 2007, don't we.

Telephone Operators

My Mother retired from Cincinnati Bell Telephone after nearly 40 years. I find this site's photos excellent as well as the information contained in it. Does anyone out there know of other sites with photos of switchboard operators and related items? Unlike the earlier post from David Kifer I was able to go visit once in a while and remember the boards. The chairs were not comfortable (at least in the 50's and early 60's. The one thing I remember most is the women making making comments about the "Cute little boy" in their midst.

Thank you all.

Robert Federle
New Iberia Louisiana

Cord Board

I worked on a cord board that looked just like this in Joplin, Missouri until 1980. Not only was it was this long, but there were 2 identical lines in the same room, one up each side. That job taught me more about multi-tasking than I could ever have learned anywhere else. What a fun job it turned out to be. It looks intimidating, but it really wasn't.

That supervisor is ready to

That supervisor is ready to crack the whip, isn't she.

Telephone Exchange

I worked on one similar to this in England in the 1950's and then for the BBC who had about 20 positions in their telephone exchange.
Norma Taylor
Tucson

I Did That Job

You won't believe it but this is exactly how it looked as late as 1978, I was 18 years old at the time, and I was a telephone operator in Baton Rouge, Louisiana then. The room we worked in was just like this, with just as many people and the chairs were only SLIGHTLY different than these. It was a facinating job!!

Call Center?

I don't think "call centers" like we know them existed in that day!

Call Center?

If you read the caption you will see this is in British-Mandate Palestine (what later became Israel).

Probably for Ma Bell (AT&T).

Probably for Ma Bell (AT&T).

Telephone Operators

Was this a call center? For what company?

Men as Operators and Telephone Strikes

This and the previous comment was by Patrick Frye III
of Charlotte, North Carolina
For more about the first decades of telephone work and the strikes of those years, go to: www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=119
A FASCINATING history!

Men as Operators

From 1878, men were employed as operators and within a year callers complained that they were rough toned and too brusque for most people's taste, so women quite quickly supplanted them and by about 1910 there were very very few men still used as operators. An added bonus for the employers was that women could be paid less and profits were thus higher for the Bell Systems of the time. Today we see this as unfair, yet it was an easy decision for employers at the time!

Operators

I was surprised to see men doing this.( No.s 20&21) I thought that they were all female operators back then.

Rick Taylor
Lecanto, Fl

amazing~~

amazing~~

Aeron 1.0

The chairs don't look too comfy, do they? Of course they all seem to be sitting about six inches in front of the backs anyway.

Operators

Oh my god that must have been miserable ... I answer phones now and I would die if we had to sit that close! My Mother had to work at one of those but I never got to see it. I have even more respect for her which I didn't think was possible.

David Kifer
Tulsa

 
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