“Not a plaything”
From the Knik Arm Courier, Jan. 11, 1961:
A problem that is still much in evidence among subscribers to the MTA is the number of instances where children are apparently being permitted to play with phones, causing much annoyance to other members of the party line.
In most cases, it is assumed that the parents are unaware of this. However, it is the responsibility of the parents to take every precaution to see that this does not occur. The telephone company suggest that in cases where the parents are unable to constantly supervise their children’s activity, a wall phone be installed. The charge for the change is a small one, and usually will eliminate the problem of children playing with the phone.
Recently when the operator was able to trace the trouble directly to one particular phone, it was discovered that the parents were not at home and the children were alone.
In cases where the parents find it necessary to make the use of the phone available to older children, they should take the time to teach them the proper use of the instrument, particularly with regard to exercising respect and consideration for other subscribers on their party line.
In the case cited, the child was heckling the part on the line, jiggling the receiver and in other ways attempting to force them to give up the line so that they might make a call.
This type of abuse can result in a family being denied phone service. The conversation timing device employed by the MTA automatically limits all local calls to seven minutes; so there is really no need for anyone to be impatient about using their phone except in case of an emergency.
In this event, a simple statement of, “May I have the line, this is an emergency,” is all it usually takes to have the party on the line willingly relinquish it.
However, it should be pointed out that asking for the phone and claiming an emergency when none exists is a misdemeanor punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
This penalty also applies in case of anyone refusing to yield the phone for an emergency.
This column is provided by the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 688-4706.