Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Party Line

Hey!  How are ya’ll?  This is a photo of our little town in the thirties.  I don’t know who the photographer was but it looks like it was taken in the 1930’s.  Amazingly it still looks a lot like this.  All the men wore hats then, see them on the left.  My grandfather always wore a hat.

Now that I am a little older I know what a treasure these old photos are.  I always search the photos for a glimpse of a loved one who isn’t here anymore.  What a gift it would be to find a photo you didn’t know existed of them.  A little piece of them still here.  Almost a hand from heaven for you to hold for just a minute.

I remember walking to town as a young girl just about every Saturday morning.  Off to get my braces tightened.  The waiting room was full of us.  We sat in absolute silence and never made eye contact.  A room full of tweens, not quite teenagers but not cute little children either.  Fearing embarrassing ourselves and scared of what torture we would endure in the next room.  The orthodonist  liked to socialize while working on my mouth and brag about what an amazing job he did for me.  He would have visitors come by while he was working on my teeth and pull out my impression that showed what my teeth looked like before I got the braces.  Then he would begin with his commentary that started with a ‘Whew boy!  She was just a mess and just look at her now!’  Umm…yes, every Saturday morning I endured this.  My mouth was throbbing before I stepped out the door and walking all the way back home seemed to be too big of an effort.  Luckily for me, my mama worked at the drugstore downtown.  So I would lay on the floor behind a display and discover all sorts of things that were sold in a drug store in the 1970’s.  It would be a while before I truly understood some of the things sold In that store.

Growing up we visited my grandparents most Sunday afternoons.  They lived in the country.  Back then if you lived in the country you had a party line.  A party line meant that you shared your phone line with other families that lived close to you.  I remember needing to call someone and having to keep checking to see if the line was open.  There was a lot of entertainment on there if you were so inclined to listen.

Found on thriftingforvintage.typepad.com b451483e3544fa9ca1acf02047e215e7

My husband grew up with an eight party line which meant they shared the phone line with eight other families if you lived in the country.  Then the closer to town you got it went to a smaller number.  So eight, then six, four and two.  My mister’s mother and aunts would hold a four way conversation with relatives that shared the line.

Found on browndresswithwhitedots.tumblr.com



Pop always wore a hat.  He had a hat for going to the country store.  He had a hat for church.  He had a hat for going to the grocery store once a week.  He had a hat for working in the garden.  He had a hat for everything.  He never went out without a hat.  Pop whistled all the time.  He was always whistling something.  He drove my grandmother everywhere she wanted to go.

My grandmother's house was always spotlessly clean.  I loved the way her bathroom smelled.  Every time I went in there the smell was clean like soap.  That one bar of Dove soap perfumed the tiny bathroom.  There was barely room to turn around but it had all that was needed.

My grandfather was a substitute preacher.  We called him Pop.  Pop knew the Bible very well.  He talked about it a lot.  Sometimes he and my grandmother would start telling me about this verse and that verse.  I pretended to listen but I really was hoping they would talk about something else.  They always got so serious about it.  I didn’t understand why it had to be so serious.  I just daydreamed about other things when they got serious and hoped it wouldn’t last too long.  I believed in God and Jesus and I just thought I would learn the rest later when I was really old like them.

Found on timothy-denehy.artistwebsites.com

Her house was always wonderfully clean.  It smelled like fresh corn on the stove cooking.  I always wanted to cook something with her but she put it off.  I really wanted that connection with her.  As I have gotten older I understand that not all of us like or want someone under us while we cook.  But I did ache for that.  That memory of her and me cooking together in her clean kitchen.  Time flew away and it never became a memory.  But I didn’t realize that until many many years later.  I had stopped at a country store and as I walked in the front door the smell brought tears to my eyes.  They sold hot lunches and it was no doubt what I smelled. It was my grandmother’s house I smelled in that store.  I couldn’t stop crying and yet I couldn’t leave.  I was a child again in my grandmother’s house.  It was such a sense of longing.  Wanting to be back in her kitchen and all those familiar smells.  Seeing her and my grandfather.  Seeing my mother, seeing my father.  It was as if I was almost there but just couldn’t reach it no matter how hard I stood up and got on my tiptoes to reach into the past.



  1. Jan, This is a beautifully written post! Your childhoods sounds very similar to mine, including the party lines.

    1. Thank you Sherry! Sounds like you were blessed too.