The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on July 21, 1954 · Page 3
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 3

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Blytheville, Arkansas
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Wednesday, July 21, 1954
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Page 3
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WEDNESDAY, JULY 21, 1WM BLYTHEVILLB (AKK.) COURIER NEW! PAGE TfflUEB OSCEOLA NEWS &V ntt, Star, * * * * ¥ ¥ • * * Mrs. NeLle Kent Began Telephone Career Third of a Century Ago You've heard this one before — "news travels fast." It does now, with telephone, radios and television, but news hasn't always traveled that fast, according to Osceola's loyal and vivacious chief operator, Mrs. Nelle Kent. Even when'she launched her career back in 1921, telephones and telephone service weren't what they are today. Telephone service has progressed along with the times and even more so. It may be news to a lot of you folks, but did you know boys were employed back in the early days of telephones in the capacity of telephone operators? A certain young Arkansas woman by the name of Kate Adams (remember the steamboat by the same name? No kin.) held the distinction of being the first woman operator in the United States. She entered the Little Rock exchange in 1879, three years after the first sentence was carried over the new contraption, "the telephone." The first telephone exchange in Arkansas was installed in Little Rock earlier in that same year, in March to be exact. It was installed by Western Union Company, under Edward C. Newton, manager. The first exchange was in a small room adjoining the Western Union Office. At first, only 40 telephones were connected. Residence phone rates were four dollars a month, but most of the 40 phones were confined solely to business establishments. « * * TELEPHONE ' business didn't grow very fast in the beginning. People were skeptical of its growth and besides, some were afraid to even get close to it. Electricity was new then, too, and if there was a cloud in the sky, nobody "dasn't" take the receiver off the hook, even if their abodes were literally covered with lightning rods. Everybody waited on the other fellow before installing one, and if anybody had been struck by lightning back then, talking over the phone or even having one hanging on the wall across the breeez-way, •we probably would be waiting now for the invention to take place. You remember your first olive or first oyster to eat? And by the way, I wonder who did eat the first one! Those first-time feats make people squeamish (a word I inherited from my preacher). During that first year of phone service in Arkansas, there were only 16 exchanges with only 3,200 stations. This section of "The Wonder State" (and I say it with regrets) was not among the first. Phone service was centered in towns around Little Rock and Hot Springs, which, by the way, was the second exchange in the state. Not until the turn of the century did people open their eyes and see . . . Mrs. Nelle Kent . , . 10,000 talk each day . * . the value of the telephone. From 1900 to 1920, utilization of newly- invented loading coil and repeater tubes made possible the extension of long distance service to all parts of the United States. From there on, telephone history in Arkansas has been one of steady expansion and improvement. * • * ANOTHER expression we're familiar with is "talk is cheap," but coming through the thread, like wires from one place to another is anything else but, for the telephone company. We on the outside can't visualize the expense attached to every call we make, even if it's only to inquire about the time of day, which is a habit with a lot of folks in small towns. Service such as we get in Osceola, required years to build. Back when Mrs. Kent came here to take over the job as chief operator, nobody — and I do mean nobody — even thought about looking up a number. Everybody knotvs everybody and naturally the operators did, too. so all we did would be to tell the operator we wanted Old Man So-and-So or something to that effect, and if he didn't answer then we expected (and got) the operator to call every place in town where Mr. So- and-So hung out until she located true * definition of service with a smile. Nelle stopped all of that. She made a lot of folks mad, "I'm a thinking," but in 30 days, the old excuse of "Junior hid the book" and "I can't find my specks" was done away with. * * » WHEN NELLE came to this exchange, there were only nine girls working on the four switch boards. Now, after fifteen years of being chief operator for Osceola, that number has increased to 30 girls and 15 switchboards and there is a constant training course going on. Don't call me a liar, please, but this is the actual number of local cflls daily made at this exchange — "ten thousand." More than there are in Paragould, a town much, much, bigger than Osceola. Listen to this — there is an average of 650 long distance calls daily to be placed at this station. People in Osceola really set an example for using their phones. There are some big- talken • • • THE OPERATORS are taught to be on the alert for anything unusual that comes in. For instance: (and this is an actual happening) we who knew and loved the late Nelle (Mrs. Louie) Walters will remember her tragic death. She was alone in her home when she suffered a heart attack. She managed to crawl to the phone, take the receiver off the hook but from there -on, she was helpless. The operator received the signal and heard her moaning »nd a dog barking. She used presence of mind and called Mr. Walters at his business to rush home. The operator kept her key open for fear Mrs. Walters might die before Mr. Walters could get to her. She heard Mr. Walters open the door and rush in and speak to her and get her to bed. The doctor came almost as fast as Mr. Walters. She didn't live long, but because of the quick thinking of the operator, she didn't die alone. • * * • MORE HUMOROUS happenings take place at Christmas time, when small children pester the operators to let them talk ,to Santa Claus and some won't leave the phone until their call is completed. One young boy in particular is Frank Butler, the mayor's grandson. He is a telephone addict; I know, I live next door to the Mayor. Mrs. Butler can hardly eat a meal that Frank isn't calling. Last Christmas he kept calling for Mr. Santa Claus and there was no explaining to *him about how busy the operators were and to let the operators get on with their work. One of the operators called in one of the trouble snooters to talk to Frank. That ended it — he was perfectly willing to go on with his playing. now because Mr. Santa Claus told him if he didn't, he was going to leave all the gifts to his cousin, George. Frank hasn't stopped telling about talking to Santa till yet. It's a common occurence for children to call and ask where their mother is playing bridge. One customer called in and wanted to place a call to a painter in Jonesboro. He didn't know his name but he remembered the man was fat and laughed a lot, so that's all the operator had to go on. She called the painter's union in Jonesboro and asked if they had a man answering that description and in less than five minutes she had the call completed. There's never a dull moment, Nelle added. * * » OF THE 30 girls employed here*, 18 of them are married and have a total of 22 children. The youngest operator is 18 and the oldest is 38, but I'm not calling names. At Christmas time, the lounge, which by the way is a far cry from the old iron cot that once was used for the gals to stretch out on, is turned into a big living room when the children or the operators are invited to a Christmas party, with a mammoth Christmas tree laden with gifts and later followed by refreshments. Of all the other wonderful things those 30 operators, along with those with other titles, have done is their "Helping Hand Club/ which originated in February. Each operator contributes 50 cent; a month, so that they can have a fund for worthy causes in Osceola At Easter time, the club was too new to have a surplus on hand so each of the girls made cake and candy and held a bake sale among the employees which netted them enough to dress two little girls in On the Social Side... Mr. and Mrs. Ted Woods spent a, week in St. Louis attending ball games and before returning home they drove to Indianola, Miss., for a short visit with Mr. Wood's parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Woods. While there, Mrs. Woods was a guest speaker at the radio station in Indianola. Misses Jean and Joan Pegues, twin daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Johny Peagus, underwent surgery at the Osceola Memorial Hospital, last week. They are now recuperating at their home. Mrs. Carol Watson was a Little Rock visitor last week. Mrs. Thomas P. Florida is ill at her home north of Osceola. Mr. and Mrs. Ben Butler, Sr.. and Mr. and Mrs. Gene Butler spent the week end in St. Louis where thej went especially for the ball games. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Robinson and son, Lowry, are vacationing in STARR GAZING Daytonia Beach, Fla. Mrs. Braxton Bragg of Little . Rock was entertained during the! The tomb of Oscar Wilde in Pert Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, done by Jacob Epstein in 1912, was kept covered by tarpaulins for months because such an uproar was made over its alleged indecency. past week by several of her friends Tuesday she was a special guest at the Town and Country Club Canasta Club when it met with Mrs. Charlie Lowrance for a luncheon. Mrs. Jack Uzzelle was also a guest. Tuesday night, Mrs. Bragg was invited to be a guest when Mrs. E. H. Hiley's supper club met with her .Thursday, her niece, Mrs. Wilbur Wildy, entertained for Mrs. Bragg with a dinner party. Friday Mrs. Guy Bryant entertained at the Seminole Club with j a luncheon honoring Mrs. Bragg. ' She returned to her home in Little Rock Monday afternoon. Mrs. Tim Bowles and daughter, Bettye Claire, left Tuesday for Daytonia Beach for a vacation. Next Tuesday, Mr. Bowles will fly down to visit his family for a week and return home with them. Easter finery. Even to little pock-1 out these 15 years, et books with the left ox~er money' tucked away in a coin purse for cold drinks at school like the other little children indulged hey couldn't. in, and ected her to >e the recipient of he telephone girls' generosity. THESE encouragement with their "Help- ng Hand Club." and I think we would all be doing a good day's urn if we called and. offered to donate something to their next bake sale. After all, they are a minority and we are the majority and a cake, a pie, cookies and candy wouldn't dent any of our pocket books, and instead of the selling to one another, I ;hink the public would enjoy two ways on this, donating and buying. Smarter looking! Sweeter run Smoother riding! ... that's what you'll say about this lowest-priced line of cars In '54, as for y»ar« b«for« . . . MORI PIOPLI ARI IUYINO CHIVROLITS THAN ANY £*DI Official Nationwide bHKl „ L Polk 4 Co. HERE'S THE MOST-AMD THE BEST-FOR YOUR MONEY! Appearoncel Performance! Comfort! Price! Weigh atf thes« factors when you buy a new car, and you'll find Chevrolet K tn* outstanding buy in its field. It alone brings you Body by Fisher beauty, highest-compression power, Knee-Action riding- imoothness—and H's the /owtst-pnced /me of aH. Come in; tonfirm thei* facts; and choose th» better buy I' No Otrw Low-Priced Car Con Motck AH Tfot* AoVanfoo*!—MIGKIST COMMISSION POWER • II66IST IRAKI! • PlrtUfNGTH lOX-GIRDft FtAMf • FlSHIR IOOY QUALITY-SAFfTY PLATE GLASS • FA MID KNM-ACTION RIM CHEVROLET Now's fto tint* to buy/ G«f our BIG DEAL/ Enjoy o Nmw CJiwotoff SULLIVAN-NELSON CHEVROLET CO. 301 Wtit Woinur Phont 3-4571 Hold up your hand if you know the name of the island where the Statue of Liberty is located. "Bed- loe Island" and go to the foot of the class for not knowing it- Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, everyday, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity. Haven't you been told sometime WcM, Cher* is tucfa a pl»c«, lying on. the «outh of the Sahara ***?**• close to the Niger and mt one tim« x, was a large city. It it ipelled, however, "Timbuktu." The Battle of Ifctau Spring* on Sept. 8, 1781, was th« last lerioua battle of the Revolutionary War. Thrift is a wonderful vjriw*, «•- ia our ancectota. The lew intelligent: ptople are, the more they are scornful, and the less they know about lift, tfa« more blase thty are. Clement Moore, toe m*n who wrote "Nnght before Chriatmai," was born. July 15, 1779. King's College, now Columbia University; in your life about "Tim Buck Two?" opened on July 17, 1754. The First bullion (silver) deposit for United THOSE GIRLS are treated as members of her family. She has watched them develop from scared timid girls into unselfish citizens- One of the little girls is in danger j Most of ^m j eave high school of going blind and her teacher se-1 and come directly t,o Nelle for a job and since 1939 she has only- had two girls to quit in their first GIRLS, I think, need' we <*. They discovered in that length of time that they were not suited for that type work. It takes patience and foritude to turn out operators such as Nelle has trained. There is always an advancement for the ones who stick with it. The girls get a week's vacation with pay for their first year services, two weeks for two years up to 15 years and after 15 years, three weeks with pay was given one of the employees recently. May I be the first to offer a home-j Of course, Nelle had to ^ receive made cake? Next! Nelle calls all of the girls, even the 38 year old one, HER girls and she says it with the utmost 3ride. She says that as each girl ;omes to her they seem timid but that doesn't hardly last through ;he first day. Not to be a mother, [ believe Nelle is the most mother- .y-type person I ever knew. Only complimentary things are; ever spoken about her girls, and' they look to her not only to teach them to be better operators, but to guide them in their every day living. They even consult her on how they should dress or wear their hair. Her sincerity has put her in the position she has held through- a lot of promotions to reach where she is now. Nelle was born in Judsonia and was one of six children. The famliy moved to Little Rock when she was 12 years old. When she was in high school she applied for a job at the Little Rock exchange to enable her to finish her four-year high school course. assistant and held that job until she came here in 1939. She was terribly homesick for three months as she didn't know a soul in Osceola -and was so busy learning to be a chief operator she didn't have time to make friends. But now, golly, she should be working for the Chamber of Commerce, She can talk an old timer like me down about the people of Osceola and she sees no improvement needed. It's perfect, she said. In 1949 she proved this is to be her permanent home for the rest of her life by building a lovely home. She claims she doesn't have an exciting life and maybe to some, the things she enjoys wouldn't be adequate but I think she is giving a most useful life to this community. She is a Methodist and is one of the most ardent workers in the Wesleyan Guild, of which she is treasurer. TELEPHONE service that continues to improve and expand doesn't just happen. It's the result of research, modern facilities and well-trained operators. It is one of the greatest inventions of all times and it is almost uncanny to think about hearing voices from, the oth- The salary in 1921 for an operat- er side of tne world. •or in the Little Rock exchange was eleven dollars a week, eight hours a day and six days a week. Those were the days, too, before an age limit was instituted so at a very early age, Nelle was doing the job an eighteen or twenty year old girl is doing, today. * • * IN 1936. she was made service I wonder -what those people would think if they could come back to life and see how Alexander Graham Bell's invention after 78 years has developed into what it is and what it means to all of us who came along long after that evening in Boston when Bell overturned a battery jar to the Se« KENT on Faf;« 5 State* coinage was on July 18, 1794. Here'* something you might -want to slip under the glaa* on your desk. It- came from "The University Presbyterian." "Man does not live by bread alone, but by beauty and harmony, truth and goodness, work, and recreation affection and friendship, aspiration and worship. Not by bread alone, but by the splendor of the firmament at night, the glory of the heavens at dawn, the blending of colors at sunset, the loveliness of magnolia trees, the magnificence of mountains. 11 "Not by bread alone, but by the majesty of ocean breakers,, i&a 'shimmer of moonlight on a calm lake, the flashing silver of a mountain torrent, the exquisite patterns of snowflakes, the creation of artists." '* Not by bread alone, but by th*' sweet song of a Mockingbird, the fragrance of roses, the scent of orange blossoms, the smell of new mown hay, the clasp of a friend* hand, the tenderness of a mother'* kiss. Not by Bread alone, but by the lyrics of poets, -the wisdom, of sages, the holiness of saints, the biographies of great; sould. "Not by bread alone, but by com- radship and high adventure, seeking and finding, serving and sharing, loving and being loved. 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