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By Staff | Nov 9, 2012

My dad could talk about farming with horses and the switch to tractors that eliminated horses completely.

When he told about using horses, he was telling me something I had no idea of what he was talking about. My only memories are of tractors.

However, I can tell young people, which would include those in their 40s, something that they would not understand, because they have no experience with it – progress calling

I can tell them about the days when to make a phone call we had to spin a handle on a wood box mounted on the wall and wait for someone on the other end to answer. Then I would tell the person who answered the number of the telephone I wanted to be connected to.

One of today’s buzz words is social media, but the party line and the telephone operator we talked to was its own social media back when I was growing up.

When our telephone rang, so did the phones of five of our neighbors. And when one of our five neighbors used their phone, it tied up the phones for the rest of us until they were done.

Listening in on a conversation was considered rude, but it happened anyway. We knew when we heard an extra noise in background, someone was eavesdropping and we had a fairly good idea who it was because they did it routinely.

Occasionally we would get our own news back to us, and there was only one way anyone would have known about that.

Compared to today, it was a very antiquated system, but it was still an advancement for everyone once the telephone was installed because before that there was nothing.

We received the next advancement, dial telephones, shortly after I graduated from high school in the mid-1960s. That also eliminated the party line.

Then the dial was eliminated and replaced by push buttons.

We were watching a movie from the 1990s, which does not seem that long ago, and they were using a pay telephone. That really looked like an antique.

In fact by today’s standards, any telephone with a cord is looking dated.

The next advancement in telephones is already under way as my house is connected to the fiber optic cable that was installed in the ditch past my house last summer.

That cable goes to the building my local telephone is connected to and is where the necessary equipment will be installed in the coming months to connect everyone to the rest of the world by fiber optic cable.

I do not know exactly what the improvement will be, because it seems like we have everything we need now and I am hearing from everybody I want to and a few I wish I did not have to.

We are connected more than ever which is good most of the time.

We have grandchildren who can not remember not having a computer connected to the telephone.

There was a time when a home would have its own telephone number and now it seems every person has his own phone number.

I certainly do not miss the old party line, although having a telephone number of two digits, or in our case our number was 4R7, and that was pretty cool, even by today’s fiber optic standard.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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