That Rings A Bell
by Donna Rhodes
My aunt lived in Social Circle, Georgia.
It used to be way, far-away from Atlanta. Now it’s practically a suburb. There was a drug store, a couple of churches (one of which survived Sherman’s march), a freezer locker (remember those?), and something that resembled a service station.
If you wanted to call someone, you’d speak to the operator who, for obvious reasons, knew everyone and everything about them. A few years later, modernization allowed you to dial four digits to reach your party. Aunt Annie’s were 3957. No area codes, no prefixes. No extensions.
Highlands had a similar town size and phone situation, except it was a couple thousand feet higher, making installation more complicated. Having a phone was a marvelously big deal in the early days.
The Hall sisters, Dorothy and Caroline, were phone operators who facilitated nearly 50 Highlands customers. Just like Social Circle, a Highlands’ operator might be asked to do a variety of things, including hollering a message down Main Street to somebody’s husband. Operators didn’t seem to mind a bit. Now that’s phone service.
Before you can have a phone, though, you need a telephone pole. Early Highlander Captain Prioleau Ravenel, had a Pin Mill that manufactured and threaded locust pins with screw tops that attached the glass insulators/wires on the poles. By May, 1901, he had a telephone line installed from Highlands to Victoria (Horse Cove). Another line ran to Cashiers and connected to Sapphire.
By 1906, phones were beginning to be the rule, not the exception. Business lines were $8.50 a month and residential, $4.75. From 1910-1919, Dr. Mary E. Lapham carried the phone/telegraph franchise. In 1919, The Highlands Telephone Company, leased and operated by the Hall family, took over.
By 1929 you could call 23 to order groceries at Davis’ Rock Store or 11 for the Potts Brothers. 14 would connect you to Mrs. Tom Harbison for her column in The Franklin Press.
In the early 60s, Highlands caught up with Social Circle and had to dial 4 numbers. In 1966 a 526 prefix was added.
Today, well, we push one icon on our programmed cellphones to reach whomever we want in an instant. Or we text: OMG. Ther ws a tym wn ppl talkd 2 1 anuthr. LOL.