Madison Telephone Book of 1944, A Vintage Vignette

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Madison Telephone Book of 1944
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
July 2, 2010

The year was 1944. World War II was going strong. The directory for the Madison Telephone Company owned and managed by Robert E. True was 3-1/2 inches wide, 6 inches long. It consisted of eight pages, counting the cover. Only four pages had listings of Madison's subscribers with their phone numbers. The rest consisted of a calendar for the year as the back cover, a page of odd (but “True”) facts, and a page of telephone care tips that gave the directory its title, “Your Telephone Speaks”. What the telephone “spoke” (on the first page after the cover) was:

“I am your telephone. Please treat me gently. With reasonable care on your part, I will continue to serve you faithfully for a long time. Unless I am dropped or damaged, you can depend upon me when calling your friends, your doctor, reporting a fire and performing other duties too numerous to mention. Because we are at war, it is difficult for your telephone company to replace me if I become broken. Replacement parts are hard to get. So please handle me with reasonable care. By dropping me on the floor, you may damage some vital part and put me permanently out of order.”

“If a service interruption occurs because of damage to a pole or a line, make a report to your telephone company without delay. I want to be of maximum service to you at all times... and with a little co-operation, I will be your most valuable servant and give you the comfort, protection and satisfaction which only a good working telephone can provide.”

These tips failed to address exactly how someone was to make a report to their telephone company without delay if a service interruption were to occur. Perhaps they were to run to Mr. True's residence or find him on the streets. Of the seven “Odd but True” items printed on page 3, one stated that “Telephone numbers are the property of the telephone company, according to an Ohio court ruling.” Another stated that “The telephone was not invented by an American. When Alexander Graham Bell's telephone patent application was made, he was a Scot. He had not been naturalized as an American citizen.” Yet another related that “The operating room once used by the Venice, Italy exchange had been a dining room for a monastery. Above the door frame of the dining room was the word SILENCE.”

For those who may recall the Madison residents of 66 years ago, the handwritten listing of the subscribers (with their phone numbers in parentheses) follows in the sequence written in the directory:

Dr. W. W. Alexander (30J)
Mrs. J. L. Brewer (12)
Brewer Gin Co. (23)
Cecil Bradford (22W)
John Bradford (30J)
J. S. Cain (27J)
Cliff Crutcher (31J)
R. E. Cain (10J, 30W)
Mrs. Lollie Collier (13W)
James Cook (22W)
Mrs. Woodie Cain (27W)
Depot S.R.R. (28J)
Nolan Drake (8)
Drake Warehouse (25)
C. H. Dublin (32)
Marvin Drake (35)
Frank Finney (51)
Farmers & Merchants Bank (14)
J. C. Gormley (28W)
Humphrey Store (18)
Mrs. Cora Humphrey (2)
Hughes Drugstore (1)
G. W. Hughes (22J)
R. O. Hembre (13)
Home Gin (6)
Geo. H. Holmes (19W)
Howard Hughes (2W)
Dr. J. A. Kyser (4)
Kyser Warehouse (7)
R. J. Lowe Farm (21)
H. T. Martin (17)
Patterson Bros. (9J)
Richard Pride (31
Dr. H. J. Parker (15)
Rev. Thelmer Vaughn (31W)
Claude Sturdivant (5)
Donald Spencer (31J)
Southern Fabrics (37)
Tribble Garage (9)
C. H. Tribble (29J)
J. E. Tribble (19W)
Herbert Thornton (5J)
R. E. True (33W)
J. C. Vaughn (23W)
Vaughn Service Station (34)
Bill Wann (9W)
Ada B. Williams (26)
Williams Farm
J. T. Jr. (19J, 19M)
Williams Warehouse (32)
J. T. Williams Jr. (19J
Dr. J. O. Wikle (24)
Whitworth Gin (3)

Rev. Thelmer Vaughn being written in the “P” section of the alphabetized listing is strange, unless it was to denote “Pastor”. Likewise, the meaning of the letter designations after some of the phone numbers is unknown to me at this time. The numbers are a long way from today's ten-digit designations.

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