By Jack Gurner
Today’s cell phones have changed the way most of us communicate. No longer are we tied to a wire coming out of the wall as we were just a few years ago.
In the Jan. 15, 1958, issue of the Herald, fifty years ago, Southern Bell Telephone Company announced that 52 telephones were added in the Water Valley area during 1957, bringing the total number of telephones here to 935.
Hugh Stanfill, Southern Bell Manager, said telephone growth in the past 10 years accurately reflects the economic expansion of the Water Valley area. The 656 telephones here in January 1948 have increased to today’s 935, a 43 per cent increase.
Over the state, more than 21,000 telephones were added during 1957, bringing the state’s telephones to 339,000, according to C. L. Lott, vice-president and general manager of Southern Bell’s Mississippi operations.
The demand for telephone service came largely from the state’s 3,300 new homeowners and the 45 new industries, which came to Mississippi, said Lott. But in addition, there was demand from expanding businesses and present homeowners for additional telephones.
To take care of a continued demand for telephones in rural areas, 5,500 telephones were added on farms, bringing the state’s total number of rural telephones to 66,500.
By 1983, 25 years later, the company was known as South Central Bell and in the Jan 6 Herald it was announced that the company would no longer supply phones or equipment for new customers. You had to buy your own.
In last week’s Footnotes under the photo of the downtown parking meters, the question was asked if anyone knew the purpose for the box on the wall.
Several people recognized it as a taxi stand telephone. Robert Montgomery even remembered that it belonged to Bill Martindale back in the early 1960’s before he became janitor at the high school.