Author Topic: Proper Dial Cards for Rural Numbered-Phones?  (Read 1272 times)

Offline JimH

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Proper Dial Cards for Rural Numbered-Phones?
« on: May 14, 2011, 11:04:03 AM »
Does anyone here know, if you have a "rural" number ring (without the A-B-C, etc), if the telephone should have a number card that has an exchange name and number such as "OLive 2- 3381", etc?  Or should these phones just have numbers on the card like "2-3381", etc.  It seems I've seen rural plates with exchange name cards, like you'd dial the first two numbers, when that would be hard to do without the letters on the dial plate.  Could it be that someone just replaced the card and they never thought of this?
Jim H.

Offline Wallphone

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Re: Proper Dial Cards for Rural Numbered-Phones?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2011, 02:06:25 PM »
My guess is that if you had a "Rural" dial plate on your phone then your phone number would not have a prefix. If your phone number had a prefix then you should have a "Metropolitan" dial plate on your phone.
Someone must have added it without giving it much thought.
Doug Pav

Offline Sargeguy

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Re: Proper Dial Cards for Rural Numbered-Phones?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2011, 09:04:38 PM »
I would use  a black card with a white rectangle and a 4-digit exchange.  I can't recall seeing one with "Listen/Wait for Dial Tone" but they were probably used as well.  The numeric dial plates were replaced by the alphanumeric dial plates once 7-digit exchanges were introduced, so if the technician was placing a number card on your phone he would have replaced the dial plate as well.
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
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Offline GG

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Re: Proper Dial Cards for Rural Numbered-Phones?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2011, 11:55:07 PM »


One possible exception.   It may be that a rural card shows the name of the exchange, but in conventional lettering or all caps, and that this was not intended to be a dialable name:   

For example: 

WESTFIELD 
5-2368 

or

Westfield
5-2368. 

In those cases, subscribers would dial 5-digit local numbers, and dial 0 for Operator to call outside their exchanges.  They would ask for the destination number by exchange and number, e.g. "Eastbrook 2-3456 please."  This would be one of the many possible variations for local independent telcos and is unlikely to represent anything the Bell System did.

What you won't find (or shouldn't) on rural number-only telephones is:

WEstfield 5
2368 

or

WEstfield
5-2368. 

The latter two styles were clearly "metropolitan" where you would dial the first two letters.

Also the "Wait" (in cursive script) "for dial tone" (in printed letters) dial card that's so common, is very typical of Bell and IMHO much less typical of independent telcos.  I would guess it was developed in metropolitan Bell areas using the Panel Dial system, where the actual wait for dial tone could be longer than in a rural area with a Strowger (Bell "Step by Step") switch.

We are used to thinking of dial tones as being fast, and from watching movies, thinking of operators as always answering calls within a few seconds (otherwise The Big Scary Monster has eaten the telephone exchange and the character in the film jiggles their hookswitch and nervously calls out "Operator?  Operator?" as the dramatic music rises....).   However in real life it could take 30 seconds or longer during peak calling hours, before an operator could take your call.   So when Bell started installing Panel systems, the idea that someone might have to wait 30 seconds for a dial tone was not considered terribly outrageous. 




Offline dsk

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Re: Proper Dial Cards for Rural Numbered-Phones?
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2011, 04:10:04 AM »
 ;D The wait for dial problem was a great problem here too.
The picture tells it all.
A common solution was to put the handset in a crystal bowl or other resonant box to not have to held the handset until the dial tone came.
dsk

Offline JimH

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Re: Proper Dial Cards for Rural Numbered-Phones?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2011, 11:05:11 AM »
Thanks for all of the input! GG, great point about the exchange being identified, but just dialing the numbers.  I know in many areas, 7-digit numbers didn't happen until, in some cases, the early 60s!  I've received telephones with "hidden" number cards that had the new, but very similar number put over the old, 6-digit number.  I've also seen very old number cards with 7 numbers on it, with the "dialed" first two numbers of the exchange that makes me think the more "urban" areas got 7 numbers first.

Getting back to the exchange names, there was an exchange here in metro-Detroit called "Mayfair", that had nothing to do with an area or city name.  It just happened to be a name that worked for the first two digits.  If you called this area long distance, it showed up as "Mayfair" on your telephone bill. People had no idea what this was when they read their bill, and had no knowledge of the history of the exchange, and the telephone company had to change the name of the "exchange" to the city name.  Just took them about 40 years to do so!
Jim H.

Offline m1898

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Re: Proper Dial Cards for Rural Numbered-Phones?
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2011, 05:59:28 AM »
I don't know what time frame you are interested in. I grew up in Berrien County, Mi. Our exchange was in Niles, Mi. In the early to mid 60s our number steated with MU3 (for Mutual 3). In the late 60s it was changed to 683. 
"Oh lord it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way. I can't wait to look in the mirror, I get better looking each day"