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Very funny story Sparkel and as always it was well written. Definitely brought back some memories. Growing up in NYC I don't recall ever having a party line - one of the advantages of a metropolitan area I suppose. So you can imagine my surprise when my young husband and I moved upstate about 60 miles to Warwick, New York. It was our first house and we were very excited. Unfortunately we discovered that we had a party line with five other families.
Oddly enough the people on the party line were scattered and unless you introduced yourself you had no clue who the others were. In general we had very little problem. I don't recall anyone being a snoop but there was one person who often kept me from making a call when I wanted to and she was just very rude in general. I never listened or stayed on, but it seemed like you no sooner picked up the phone when she would yell at you to get off.
However, one day my son began to run a very high temperature because of tonsilitis. We were trying to get him stable enough to have surgery but it was a struggle. On this particular day I was home alone with him and my 4 year old daughter. I tried getting his temp down without success and the problem was worse because he often had seizures. I tried to call the doctor but this woman was on the line. I waited 5 minutes and tried again and again she screamed at me. On the third try I said that please it was an emergency and could she please get off the phone because my son was sick. She cursed at me and told me to go to hell. By this time I was frantic.
I ran outside and screamed and a couple of my neighbors immediately came out. One ran over to watch the children while I went to her house to make the call and the doctor told me to come right away. I complained to the phone company and a few days later got a letter that had evidently been sent to all customers that said you MUST respond to an emergency by someone on your party line by immediately disconnecting your call or you would be fined. I was extremely happy however when just a few months later we had the option to keep the party line or get a private line at a slightly higher cost - we got the private line.
I now live in Louisiana and believe it or not there are some very rural areas without telephones at all. One community was written up because it got phone service for the first time and I understand that AT&T and a couple of other companies now HAVE to provide service to all. Of course with cell phones it's not as much of a problem but reception is very uneven. There are still many places that don't get cable TV - including my community - and some only have the dial up option for Internet. I have satellite TV and am lucky enough to be in a place that has DSL service.
We really do often take so much for granted in this modern world.