Sunday, November 29, 2015


It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving – late afternoon. Ina was enjoying a quiet time of reflection as darkness fell on the room. She was comfortable in her old rocking chair near the dining room window, her well-worn Bible open in her lap. Her husband Jack was dozing in another rocker near the fireplace. Soon she and Jack would have a light supper and then listen to a radio program before bed.

Orofino in the early days
Jack and Ina had homesteaded this land on the breaks of the Clearwater River south of Orofino, Idaho, some 35 years ago. The land was both their home and their livelihood. Now in their 60s, their six children grown and gone except for the youngest, Shirley, the elderly couple still worked hard to sustain themselves through the farm.

Jack and Ina's place
Suddenly the telephone box on the wall began to jangle, jolting Ina from her reverie. As if coming out of a dream, she recognized their ring – short short long – and hurried to lift the receiver.

“I have a long distance person-to-person call for Mrs. Julian Dobson from Mrs. Ernest Robinson,” intoned the operator at the central exchange in Orofino. “Is that you, Ina? Will you accept Ethel’s call?”

“Yes, Mabel,” Ina responded.
“We’ve reached your party, Mrs. Robinson. Go ahead, please,” said the long-distance operator.

“Hello, Mama. Everything is fine here. How’s everything there?” Ethel’s voice squawked over the line. “Listen, Mama,” continued Ethel, “I’ll make it quick. Ernest is between assignments, see, and we can get away for Christmas. Mama, we wondered if we could spend Christmas at the farm.”

Ina was momentarily stunned. She wondered if she were dreaming after all, but she had the proof of the receiver in her hand. “Why, yes – yes, that would be fine, Ethel. When should we expect you?”

Ethel explained that she would not talk longer since she had already mailed a letter with further details.

Ina could scarcely believe that the call had happened. The anticipation of a grandchild in her home for Christmas was all Ina needed to set her in a whirl. Jack, roused from his nap by the telephone, was now wide awake and asking what Ethel had said. Ina explained briefly but added that they would have to await Ethel’s letter. KW


Hallie said...

Did the telephone ring whenever anyone got a call and they just had to know the morse ring for their line?

Kathy said...

On a party line, at least in that era, all the rings came in on your phone. You only answered your "Morse" ring. A party line was anything but private because you could lift your receiver and listen in. Some people eavesdropped on calls as a form of entertainment.

Chris said...

Great start! This reader will be looking for the next installment. (And I still say Ethel could give Bette Davis a run for the money in the eye department.)

Kathy said...

Thanks, Chris. I only hope I don't run dry in the second week. . .

I agree about the eyes. And I remember my sisters saying that Ethel's daughter, Shirley Jean, had beautiful eyes.