-0500 Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1993 14:19:29 -0500 From: TELECOM Moderator Message-Id: To: snipped-for-privacy@gaak.LCS.MIT.EDU Subject: telephone.magazine.from.1926 Status: RO
ender: Followup-To: Distribution: Organization: University of California; Santa Cruz Keywords:
I was recently given a copy of the Southwestern Bell employee magazine "Southwestern Telephone News", issue of October 1926, which was Volume13, No. 10 and hence must have started publication about 1913. This article will be a summary of the contents; perhaps I'll type in or review particular articles later.
The front cover shows a cable splicer hanging from a strand as he splices an underground cable to an aerial cable in Dallas.
Repeated several times througout the issue is, "New Long Distance rates and practices went into effect on October 1st. Pamphlets giving full information on these changes are available for all employees. Study the rates carefully so that you can answer the questions of subscribers." I remember this attitude, that all employees should be prepared to represent the company to the public, was later embodied in a slogan, "To the public _you_ are the telephone company," that was constantly presented to employees.
On page 2 is a photograph of sheep with their heads in the grass, and an amusing caption: "Sheep (Eating) In July, our explanation that the folks in the frontspiece were stacking wheat brought a protest from Kansas that they were not stacking but were shocking wheat. This time we take no chances. Grazing, as we remember, is the right term, but we are not sheepherders. (Texas panhandle, please note.)"
The first article is a bio of Charles P. Cooper, former president of Ohio Bell who was just elected vice-president of AT&T.
Next there are five pages with pictures reporting on a Telephone Pioneers meeting in New York City. Among other activities they visited AT&T headquarters, Bell Labs, and New York Telephone headquarters and were greeted by executives of those companies. The highlight was an address by Thomas A. Watson, who told of his experiences as a colleague of Alexander Graham Bell. This was followed by a demonstration of talking movies, including one depicting the invention of the telephone and narrated by Watson.
Then there is an article "Efficient and Courteous" by an anonymous "counterman". He tells of receiving a letter of commendation from a customer. Even though he had had to turn down the customer's request for service he had fully explained why there was a shortage of facilities in the customer's area, and the problems of the company in extending its lines.
Then the medical director of AT&T writes to those who have just returned from vacations, urging them to use their spare time during the week as a "vacation all year." He suggests they get out of doors, do the essential chores, of course, but do something recreational. " ...forget as far as possible that you ever worked for the Telephone Company."
The telephone exhibit at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition is described, with a reminder that the telephone was first exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia 50 years earlier. The 1926 exhibit includes a showing of motion pictures, two of which are talking. One of these features Thomas A. Watson [and is presumably the same film that was shown to the Pioneers]; and the other "contrasts the noisy operating room and crude apparatus of the eighties, when boys were operators, with the central office of the present."
I guess in those days AT&T stock was marketed through telephone offices, as there is an article about how an AT&T rights offering was handled. There are accounts of company employees persuading the public to buy stock, and also of people who threw away the rights documents, not realizing they had monetary value.
There's a sort item about telephone operators assisting when there was an explosion at a high school, and another showing the first installation of a P.A. system in a school, with switching so that music or voice can be had in any combination of rooms.
Then there is the second part of an article reprinted from _Telephony_ by an operator, Manta J. Elder, about her experiences. There were annual floods when the Marais-des-Cygnes overran its banks near Ottawa, Kansas. Many operators lived across the river from the telephone office and had to cross the river in canoes and stay at the office so they would be available. Also severe winters when the streets were impassable to vehicles and the company sent horses to the residence of each operator to bring them to work. Sleet storms in February took lines down, so things were very quiet at the switchboard until service was restored; and then everybody wanted to use the telephone. She tells of working the last day at an old switchboard before cutover to a new one in a new office. "The next day i went by the old office, and my feet naturally led me up the old stairway. If I had known that I should see the salvaging force at their work, I would never had have the courage to enter the old room. The board was already sadly wrecked. It seemed to me that I was looking upon something almost human, which was being made to suffer after years of patient and loving service to a public which now gives it no thought.
"As I walked on toward my home, I fell to thinking of the many and varied messages that had been carried through that old public servant. The first news of special interest to all people handled through its channels was the news of Admiral Dewey's victory at Manila Bay, which occurred about three weeks after the installation of the board.
"Service began on this old switchboard June 13, 1898, and except for one hour during President McKinley's funeral, until December, 1915, it was a living part of the community it so faithfully served."
She goes on to tell of the World War, and of the influenza epidemic. Says that in earlier times the telephone operators often complained that they were not appreciated by the public, but at the time of writing most people are truly appreciative of their services. A little of the history of the company, which was originally the Kansas City Telephone company, called the "Home" Company; at the time of abandonment of the old switchboard the "Home" and "Bell" companies were consolidated under the name of "The Kansas Telephone Company", in the spring of 1915. On January 1, 1926, the company was transferred to Southwestern Bell.
Then there are three pages of managerial personnel changes, with some portraits. Then an article about formation of the Charles S. Gleed chapter of Telephone Pioneers in Kansas City, and an article about the switchboard in St. Louis being extremely busy in the aftermath of the St. Louis Cardinals winning the National League pennant.
A page of short items: Clemenceau quoted on the need for technical experts to be aware of matters outside the scope of their expertise; a comment on the article by "a counterman"; an article about the recent AT&T stock issue; and a repeat of the item about new long distance rates and practices.
Four pages with pictures about Bell Telephone Laboratores, and some unrelated pictures of employees enjoying their summer vacations.
Two pages about Texas beginning a new billing method: instead of billing all customers on the same day of the month they will spread the billing dates throughout the month to smooth out the workload.
Two pages about handling mail in the headquarters mail room, the need for good addresses, and the problem of customers sending cash in the mail when paying their bills; an average of $15 a day is found in the mail room when the supervisor has to open inadequately addressed mail.
Then a rather technical article, with schematic diagram, of a circuit to simplify cutting phantom transpositions. (When a phantom circuit is added to two existing circuits it is necessary to alter the way the wires are transposed on the poles. This must be done without interrupting service on the exiting circuits any longer than necessary.)
Two pages of service records, including portraits of seven men who have worked a total of 185 years.
One page about the "first annual" Watermelon Festival in Hope, AR.
An article about keeping score on collection work; teams get points for minimizing the need to communicate with subscribers to get them to pay their bills.
Photographs of the new Norman, OK office, and an open house for visitors. Suggestions for Halloween costumes (illustrations) and two pages of illustrations of ladies' fashion suggestions. A page of cartoons by "Stack", with a Halloween theme.
Three pages telling where every construction crew is working and what jobs they are working on. Some photos, including a cable splicer and his helper with what appears to be a push cart containing their tools and supplies. A page with a map of the company's territory, showing the locations of all lost-time accidents for the year. Four pages of social news: parties, retirements, contests won, other activities. "Anyone at St. Louis Toll who wants a thrill, should let Miss Hogan take them riding in her Ford. She misses other cars by a fender."
A page "What I Did Today" containing stories by operators of how they assisted the public. A page of poetry written by telephone people.
Inside back cover, a list of the principal management officers of the company and their titles. Back cover, an AT&T advertisement. This one shows operators being delivered to their office in a truck in a howling blizzard; and the text tells how people take the telephone for granted, how different life would be without it, and how 300,000 telephone people work to maintain dependable service.
"Ya can talk all ya wanna, but it's dif'rent than it was!" "No it aint! But ya gotta know the territory!" Meredith Willson: "The Music Man"