Do any of you old timers remember the party line phones?

One ring meant the call was for our neighbor, two rings meant the call for us, three rings was the neighbor across the street, four rings meant the call was for the Deputy Sheriff at the end of the street. We would often listen in on the Deputy's calls to see if anything exciting was happening.

Cell phones have no class!!!


Also, we had one phone which lasted all the years my siblings and I were growing up. It never failed, and it was free.

32 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    oh heavens yes. One of the fun memories is that we were very friendly with our partyline folks, so there was quite a trick to calling each other. Seems to me there was an unspoken courtesy that if you heard the other folks pick up more than 2x you needed to get off, it meant they needed their phone. Like everything else, there was a sense of courtesy, sharing, and neighborliness about it that is long gone now.

    You might be interested to know that we have an old phone still in our basement, rotary, all hardwired in, none of those little clips. Young people visiting dont have a clue how to make a call on it, ( they need a lessson on the rotary dial and how to use it) nor do they understand what that silver arm is for!

  • 3 years ago


    Source(s): Get Free Government Phones -
  • 10 years ago


    When I was 10, we moved out into "the country" (actually a half-mile out of the city limits) and initially got onto an eight-party line. Yep, eight. Thank goodness, everybody only heard rings for themselves and three others. Within a year, we got a four-party line on which nobody used the phone very much; it was a real improvement!

    But, you know, in the 40s and early 50s, a private line was a rarity. People just didn't see the need for it. In fact, before we moved, we didn't even have a phone. If somebody wanted to call us, they rang the next-door neighbor, who would run over and tell us we had a call. That's when neighbors were neighbors...

    And while we are in the realm of the unbelievable here, there were very few dial phones outside of the big cities in those Days of Yesteryear. The small town I lived in was, in fact, the very first in the US to get what we now consider a standard dial phone system - in 1955!



    Source(s): . Life... . .
  • Laredo
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    Yes I do remember party line phones, I was a telephonist at the Telephone Exchange and the problems we had when one of the phones went faulty. Also the complaints about the other person on the party line picking up the phone and listening to their conversations. Still it was all good fun and I would not have changed anything.

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    We did have a party line but there was only our family and one older lady on it. I don't remember any problems at all, just if we kids heard the old lady pick up the phone a couple of times we were supposed to say "Hi, Mrs. Ault, I'll be off the phone in just a minute" and then we had to hang up pretty quickly. I don't really remember the special rings but there must have been some sort of code. Also don't remember any problems or complaints, but I think we got a private line when I was in my teens.

  • -
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    We first got our first phone in 1960 when the telephone company got the lines put out there. A 3-minute time limit and the operator would give a warning, people would call each other back to finish their story or plans. Ours was a wall phone in the kitchen and you had to stand at it to talk, no private conversations like today. We had different rings too. Later in Oklahoma we had a 4-party line, and there was always one family who monopolized the line and you couldn't receive an important phone call from someone when you were expecting it, made it harder to do business sometimes. I understood then why there was a time limit on the ones in Missouri.

  • 10 years ago

    Unfortunately, there was also a downside to party lines.

    My mother was taken ill and tried to call my dad at work. Some kids were on the party line and when she asked them to allow her to make a call, they sneered and told her she could have the phone when they felt like it.

    Dad came home for lunch and found my mother crawling down the front steps to get help from a neighbor. He scooped her up and got her to the hospital just in time.

    While she was resting, he drove over to the phone company and demanded a private line NOW.

    Of course, they told him it would be a day or two but when he threatened multiple lawsuits, they sent a technician back home with him!

  • 10 years ago

    Yes! I remember our telephone number too. We would pick it up to use it, and if someone was on there, we had to wait until they got off so we could use it. That was so funny. My sister kept that old telephone. They were much better made back then. Our phone got broken recently, and I ordered a new one from AT&T. It was so cheaply made that I had to go to the Good Will and buy one of the older Princess phones which go on the wall. Found one for $3.00. Wish I had one like the one on the Andy Griffith Show, but I would not want the operator listening in!

    Cell phones are really useless except when you need to call for help from your car. So far, I have never had to do so.

  • Monty
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    I do remember. The phone number was the same, except there was a letter difference at the end. My phone number ended in W. My friend, across the corner had the same number ending in J. The teenaged guy across the street had the same number, and I forget what his letter was. We used to listen to him talk with his buddies and with his girlfriend. He was a total joke!

    My cousin, Mrs Stingy Cheap, was on the very last existing party line in the whole city. She hated it that this other party was always on the phone, but she wasn't about to cough up the extra to have a private line. Also, she kept her old rotary dial phone. I think that remained phone company property, leased to her. Once, she asked me about my sleek cordless phone. Did the phone company have to fix it when it broke? No? Then what would I do if it quit? I told her I'd go buy another one, phones aren't that expensive. Not her, boy! She wanted one that the phone company had to take care of!

    That's the same lady who asked me how often I had to clean out the garbage from my disposal.. You DON'T??? Where does the garbage go, then? I explained it gets ground up fine and goes down the drain. I needed to put orange peel down there now and then to keep it smelling sweet. So, she decided not to get one. She didn't like oranges, wouldn't waste the money to get one, just to throw down the drain.

  • 10 years ago

    Oh yes, we had a very full party line! We could hear the rings for 1/2 the numbers but not for the other half. I think there were 8 all together. I learned a lot of sex education on there! My school bus driver was having an affair with someone's wife who was on that line. She would answer the ring for the one vacant spot on the line if her husband was not home. No one talked very long in those days...there was work to do!

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