Johnson, Melvin J. / History and my memories of Wind Lake Telephone Company
Reflections of Melvin Johnson, pp. 58-80 ff. PDF (11.0 MB)
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 happy. 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. 59
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