Jul 28 2008
08:30 am
By: WhitesCreek

by Ray Collett

Hello Readers, We will continue our letter from "Pelea" Meador ( Class of 1944) from last Monday.....Pelea writes," In my senior year of high school, Miss Josephine Rummage called my mother to see if I'd be interested in taking training to work for Bell Telephone Company. My mother told her "Yes" and that was that."
"Miss Josephine, Miss Juanita Ragle, and Miss Amy Earhart were the sweetest people on the planet to tolerate a 17 year old trying to learn everything in the world. It was a wonderful job. I worked after school and after I graduated until over a year later, Oak Ridge called to me."
The job at the telephone office was the most interesting one that I ever had. It was during WW II when all of the servicemen, at the Prisoner of War Camp in Crossville, were calling home to talk to their families. I learned of many unheard of places, and how to route their calls through the big cities. We always found our destination as well as called folks to wake them in the morning because you could not buy alarm clocks."
"I knew practically all of the 450 or so customers' phone numbers in Rockwood. It was wonderful to plug in and say, "Number please", and someone would say,"Gimme Jim King's Store." I would then connect them with 242. There are stories that go with each of these jobs. Some were funny, some were serious but, since the newspaper can't hold them all, I'll tell only one."
"The summer of 1944 was an important one in many ways. I was working for the Bell Telephone Company and reading a lot of science fiction stories. One night Elizabeth "Sis" Bright and I were working. Sis had gone to bed on the roll-a-way cot at 10 pm and was asleep. I worked until 2 AM, then I would sleep until 6 AM while "Sis" worked."
"As I said before, I was aftaid of my shadow so, as I sat at the switchboard, all windows wide open, no air conditioning in our office upstairs over the police station, I was a "sitting duck" for anyone within a block. Out of the darkness from the great outside, I heard a tiny, weak voice quietly say,"Calling, Telephone Operator." I adjusted my headset. It wasn't coming from there. It got a little louder,"Telephone Operator." I was one scared girl with a notion that aliens from outer space had come for me at last. So I quietly climbed down from the switchboard and crawled under Miss Josephine's desk and called to "Sis". She awoke, raised up, looked around and asked, "Where are you?" I told her where I was hiding, so she got up, went to the window and found the source of the call."
A lady, who had a reservation at the Mourfield Hotel had arrived late on the bus and could not get in, as the hotel closed around 8 or 9 PM. The lady did not want to wake the guests, hence the quiet voice. "Sis" was only a couple of years older than I, but so much more mature. She called a cab to take the lady back to the bus station where she spent the night. I was safe from aliens another night, and "Sis" had a good laugh telling on me in the morning." Pelea Meador.
Thanks Pelea, your stories are always so entertaining. This column has reunited a few people over the months. And I received an email from Phyllis Proffitt Hamman. The lady, Mable Proffitt that Pelea mentioned last week is Phyllis's grandmother. Phyllis is wondering if Pelea might have any more memories about her.
On another note, the Community Center in Rockwood is having bingo for seniors on Tuesday around noon. This has been going on now for a year or so and the attendance is growing each week. Drop in and join them sometime. I bet the ladies would let you join in if you are not a senior just yet...........Until next week, Ray

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