In 1971, when I went to work for the phone company, we operators worked on the old cord board, where operators answered customers by plugging a cord into a lighted hole. At that time, customers could dial local calls, but long distance calls had to be dialed by the operator. By 1974, customers could dial 1+ calls by themselves, but certain calls, such as collect calls, still had to be handled by the operator.
In 1984 I transferred to a job in the dial office, as an electronics technician working on electro-mechanical equipment that had been installed in 1958. In 1995, the phone company started upgrading the whole state to digital phone systems, replacing the electro-mechanical offices with computerized or digital offices. After my home office was upgraded, I was placed on a traveling crew, going all over the state, until the last offices in Weleetka and Wetumka, Oklahoma, were replaced.
When I retired in 2003 after 32 years of service, I became an active member of the Telephone Pioneers, now serving as secretary and attending most monthly meetings. We are a service organization, serving the communities together as a club, and as individual volunteers.
I have noticed over the years that the retirees who have the best retirement are the ones who had a “life” outside the phone company, the ones who kept up an active life after they retired.
We enjoy reminiscing about how things were in the “good ol’ days,” but we live in the here-and-now. If changes are going to be made in our community, our state, our nation, our world, it must come from those who are forward-looking, not sitting back, retired from the world. It’s okay to fondly remember, but don’t try to live in the past.
Paul spoke wise words to us in Philippians 3:13-14, when he said, “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
True pioneers don’t just sit around dreaming of the past; they press on into the future.