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Johnson, Melvin J. / History and my memories of Wind Lake Telephone Company

Reflections of Melvin Johnson,   pp. 58-80 ff. PDF (11.0 MB)

Page 59

the telephone and say - n u m b e r, as was his expression all the
time.   Then he had to wait to see that the connection was made
before he could leave there. After that connection was made and
conversation was on, he would have to go back and test the line
ever so often to see if they were through and if they were through,
he could pull the plug and open the line for any other call.      It
was interesting. Hulbert was a great guy.
I talked with his son the other day, Donald and he remembers it
well and talks about all the history that went on. Hulbert married
this lady from Burlington, I don't recall her name, but they had
one son and that was Donald. She passed away shortly after Donald
was born and left Hulbert with Donald.
Well in this case like all other cases it seems as though faith
comes in and provides some means.     Hulbert had a friend just a
short way away, Jim Thompson, a real nice fellow who was married
and without children.
They volunteered to raise Donald as Hulbert's son.  Everybody was
I talked to Donald, a good friend of ours, a short while ago. He
comes to the stockholder meeting every year and we visit with him.
He is a wonderful man.
Well Hulbert carried on and I worked with Hulbert on the line many
times. There were several of us employees.
I graduated from high school in 1923 and had to stay home on the
farm. The only time we could get away was to go and make a dollar
working for Hulbert.
We weren't always available for Hulbert, but he could use us when
we were available.
Then we got into the depression, times were pretty slow and a lot
of fellows wanted the telephone for $5 a year, but $5 was hard to
come by. So when it came time to pay the bills, Hulbert worked out
a system whereby he nor the company profited by it, but it would be
a matter of business.   Hulbert would use the barter system.    You
dig a post hole for me and I will allow you so much money toward
your telephone bill.   That worked out good.   Hulbert satisfied a
lot of men. They could get the telephone by working two, two and
one half days for the $5. ($1.50 a day is what they were supposed
to make.)   It would take them three long days to pay for their
telephone bill just to keep their telephone for the whole year.
Doc always worked out some way or other of bargaining this or
bargaining that so that people could keep their telephones and the
company was still ahead.

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