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Community Comment

Fri., Aug. 20, 2010, 4:06 a.m.

The modern party line…

David Horsey,davidhorsey.com,seattlepi.com
David Horsey,davidhorsey.com,seattlepi.com

Good morning, Netizens...


Early in my years and perhaps yours we had one of the greatest sources of misinformation and gossip known to man, commonly known as “the party line” telephone. For the most part my experience with the party line consisted of a wall-mounted crank telephone where you had to call the operator with a good crank before you could place a phone call. Unfortunately, you could also listen in to any other members of your party line while they were calling someone else. This made for a particularly good source of information and juicy gossip.


Until recent years I hadn't seen anything that would rival the old party-line telephones for ease of use and abuse. If you heard the phone ring someone else's ring (ours was two shorts and a long ring) wait a few minutes and then making certain to cover up the mouthpiece to prevent background noise from letting the other party know you were there, simply pick up the phone and listen in.


The only big difference between then and modern-day telephones was there was no dial; all calls were routed through the operator in town. Everyone knew where the operator's office was because she lived on the main drag, and that was where you paid your phone bill. She was also, in some cases, a reliable source of self-censored gossip about life back then. If your wife/daughter had a legitimate baby, it's gender and weight were spread via word-of-mouth as soon as someone called from the hospital. If the baby was born out of wedlock, although it might take a bit longer for word to get around, all it took was a phone call and everyone in your party line quietly spread the word. Many a young woman's life was put on emotional rocks of life because of the party line.


In this morning's David Horsey cartoon we take a modern-day look at the latest permutation of the party line carried forward into our generation.


The premise today is if we read it on the Internet, regardless of the veracity of its source, it must be accurate because it came from the Internet. We have made the transition from the old party line to the newfangled gadgets; the only difference is in many cases nobody knows the source of information nor, in some cases, its accuracy, but we are encouraged to spread the word nonetheless, because by God we can.


As much as Jeanie and I have the temerity to have put our names on this Blog, still we both make strenuous efforts to keep what we say is accurate. Not all Blogs, unfortunately, seem to perform this self-censorship. This morning David Horsey seems to have hit the nail squarely on the head.


Dave




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