Have you ever heard of "party lines"? Oh sure, there has probably been a dance or something named party line but I'm talking about community phone lines.
Back in the fifties when I was young enough to run around in my underwear without embarrassment we shared a party line with several other equally poor families. There was no privacy with a party line. If you picked up the phone to make a call you could very easily listen in on a couple of frumpy old neighborhood women complaining about the kid in the neighborhood who ran around in baggy underwear....or something else equally important.
There is an old picture of me standing on a chair in the dining room holding a huge telephone up to my ear. I really liked listening in on old ladies' telephone conversations. Like I said, it was easy to do and hard to get caught. However, I had a tendency to join in after a few minutes and this always seemed to end the conversation. My mama met several of the neighbors this way.
One time we needed to get in touch with my dad. He was off in Mississippi for two weeks of reserve training and mama thought she needed to share the good news with him that another child was on the way. Every time she picked up the phone she heard two old biddies gossiping about something or someone. She kept trying and not having any luck. She was getting a little frustrated and I feared she would take her frustration out on Cindy and me if I didn't do something quick. She left the room for a minute so I picked up the phone and listened just long enough to make sure these old girls weren't talking about me. Then I started singing to them. I sang all the words to the Ballad of Davy Crockett...all the words I knew anyway. The ladies didn't care much for my singing and told me such....so I started again from the top. The lines were clear when my mama came back in the room. My work was done so I hitched up my droopy underwear and headed out the backdoor.
I miss the good old days!