Poetry

A Party Line

By: Carl Papa Palmer

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Not a party line like the wild winding party line of congas dancing one-two-three-kick across-the-floor and out- the-door
nor a party line like the Democrat or Republican political party line voting along their party line,
but a type of telephone line.

Not the type of telephone line like the line of folks in line at the airport lined to use a telephone along
the wall lined with telephones
nor the type of telephone line like the telephone lines strung on telephone poles lining every street
in every town stringing one telephone line to every house in town having a telephone.

This telephone line, an out-of-town in-the-country telephone line, was only one telephone line, a single shared telephone line strung on telephone poles lining rural roads to rural houses with telephones like our house on Old Mill Road on the same telephone line shared with six other houses in the early 1960s called

a party line.

When a party line telephone rang in one house on the party line, the telephone rang in every house on the party line. A one, two or three ring code was assigned to each party’s telephone number on the party line.
The seven ring codes to notify each party on our seven-party party line if the phone call was for them was
1 long, 1 long & 1 short, 1 long & 2 shorts, 2 longs, 2 longs & 1 short, a short and two longs or 3 longs.

Every party in every house on the party line had to listen to rings to determine if the call was for them.
All seven parties on our party line knew who of the seven parties had which ring sequence, knew who of the seven parties on our party line was getting the most calls and how long that party was tying up the seven-party party line,

especially late at night,
especially with three teenage girls in our house.
A party line also meant anybody could and anybody would quietly pick up and listen to any call, and did,
especially with three teenage girls in our house.

Categories: Poetry

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