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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A fight was being waged in Spokane over the future of the telephone lines – and the future of the legions of young, female switchboard operators working for the Bell Co. A new company was proposing to come into town with “automatic” phones, not requiring operators.

Letter-to-the-editor writer Guy O. Campbell wrote a stirring defense of what he called the “girl-phone” and its army of “hello-girls.”

“It provides employment for a great many poor, and in many cases, homeless girls – girls who will be thrown to the grim mercies of the street to seek new jobs, if the Bell phone has to go,” he wrote.

Who was behind the drive for “automatic” phones? A bunch of greedy men, that’s who.

“A group of stentorian-voiced kickers are trying to drag down more of those of whom Spokane is, and has a right to be, proud – its girls,” wrote Campbell. “And their only reason for their desire for the automatic phone is that other desire – the desire for money. By the use of the automatic, they would have an extra dollar or two at the end of the year to spend for cigars or beer.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

2000: George W. Bush was transformed into the president-elect as a divided U.S. Supreme Court reversed a state court decision for recounts in Florida’s contested election.