Should Cape to Jackson Calls Cost a Dime?

November 1944 Phone Book Cover

I was browsing through the November 18, 1918, Southeast Missourian when I saw there was a big controversy brewing. The phone company was petitioning the state utility commission to allow them to either raise rates on all users, or end free calling between Cape Girardeau and Jackson, and make it cost a dime a call.

Darned students are hogging the lines

Pay telephone booths near Scott Quadrangle in Athens, Ohio, c 1967

Cape Girardeau Bell Telephone said that from 500 to 700 calls a day are handled between the two cities daily. Their records show that at least 75 percent of the calls are for “social purposes. Students are frequent users of the line. Young people get much enjoyment talking to friends in the other town. Much visiting is done over the phone.”

Business calls were being blocked

The phone company complained that the 25 percent of the calls going to “essential business” has to wait until the 75 percent of social business is taken care of.

“Every businessman knows that not once in a hundred times can he get a prompt connection with Jackson, but must wait from a few minutes to a few hours.”

What’s the problem?

One of nine telephone system rooms at The Palm Beach Post

The phone company manager said there are only six lines between the two towns. If the free service is continued, he claimed that he would have to put in seven more lines to take care of the business that has grown through the free rate.

He estimated that the calls would drop from 600 a day to about 100 a day if the ten-cent toll was approved.

[In comparison, my old paper, The Palm Beach Post could handle more than 300 phone calls at once. I was on vacation when I was offered the job of telecommunication manager. As I was driving through Old Appleton, I thought, if I take this job, I’ll have a bigger phone system than most of the towns in SE Missouri.]

Missourian was vexed

Long distance rates from Cape in 1944

The Missourian editorialized that it “is not fully enough advised regarding the facts in the case to offer any suggestions for a solution, but it knows from its daily vexation that something should be done to clear the Cape-Jackson lines in order that essential business may be transacted with a little more promptness.”

The dime charge must not have been approved because this table of long distance charges doesn’t show one for Jackson.

I vaguely remember Jackson as being long distance when I was a kid, but I could be wrong. Anybody know for sure?

Shawnee High School

Way back in 1969, I stumbled across a dying coal town in Perry County, Ohio, that looked like something out of a Western movie set. Many of the buildings had wooden balconies overlooking Main Street.

Most unusual was an effigy hanging at the main intersection in town. I was told that some in town thought it was supposed to represent the mayor, but I couldn’t confirm that.

I needed ten more hours to graduate from Ohio University, so I convinced an architecture prof to let me earn six hours of credit for documenting the town. I spent about 20 hours and shot over 400 photos. I didn’t think I had exhausted all the possibilities the town had, so I took an incomplete to keep working. Riots, a job offer in another state and circumstances kept me from getting the hours and the degree.

I spent almost a month recently digitizing the negatives, improving their quality and repairing dust spots and scratches. The result will be a series of exhibits in concert with the Little Cities of Black Diamonds and the Southeast Ohio History Center. The first showing will be at the Second Saturday celebration in Shawnee on June 9, 2018.

The first will center on Shawnee High School. The only thing left of it today is the gymnasium.

Gallery of Shawnee High School in 1969

Click on any image to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

 

Barn on River Road

Barn on River Road 08-27-2014I was rooting through my Ohio photos trying to find something for Curator Jessica to use in a brochure or some such thing when I ran across this photo slugged “Barn on River Road,” taken in Athens (OH) county in August 2014.

When I was working in Athens, I went through a barn phase. There were lots of really pretty, well-kept ones in that area. This one still has a good coat of the traditional red paint. (Click on it to make it larger.)

Why are barns red?

Barn 05-06-1969Why are barns red, you might ask? Because they’re prettier against green grass, maybe? Actually, I ran across a whole bunch of links dealing with barn paint.

 

Never a Dull Moment

Halloween constumes 10-26-2013I never know what I’m going to find when I pull into my Athens, Ohio, No-Tell Motel. These folks greeted me in October of 2013.

What are THEY doing?

U of Wisc NFA team 04-17-2015After spending the day helping Curator Jessica and the other fine folks at the Athens County Historical Society and Museum get set up for Thursday night’s exhibit of my photos, I headed back to the motel to put on a non-rumpled shirt and some clean pants.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I first encountered a guy with a noisy leaf blower. In my parking space and a couple of adjacent ones stood a circle of singing or chanting arm-wavers. Great, I thought, it’s some crazy religious nuts.

From the University of Wisconsin

U of Wisc NFA team 04-17-2015It turns out they were from the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire, in town with about 1,500 other students from 79 schools to compete in the National Forensic Association’s finals.

They were doing warm-up exercises that included chants, some obscure elimination game and emoting that involved making expressions that looked like a poodle passing a peach pit.

When I was in the Central High School forensic program, about the only warming up I got was getting whacked with a ruler by Ruby Davis when I said “warsh” instead of wash.” Times must have changed.

Gallery of photos

Here are some more photos of my neighbors (who were amazingly quiet, by the way). They include Kelly Wright, assistant forensics director, in polka dots. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.