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The Farmers' Line
by Bill Kimberlin

February, 2001

          The fiber cable that is being laid through the valley this year reminds me of how things used to be.
          In the old days the phone only went to Boonville. Beyond that, we had what was called, "the farmer's line", which was a community built and operated phone line from Boonville to Navarro, somewhere.

Fiber Optic Cable by Hwy 128
          The community line only went along 128. Each group of neighbors was responsible for the wire and polls to their houses, and everyone together took turns maintaining the basic Hwy. 128 line.
          That "Farmer's Line" is my model for this site. They both require a lot of cooperation and interaction.
          It was a party line as I remember. If you picked up the phone and someone was talking, you had to wait your turn. In the winter, it would often go dead as falling tree branches busted the wires. This meant jumping in the truck and driving slowly along, from pole to pole, looking for the break.
          I can't remember ever actually going out in a storm to fix it. I don't think we thought the phone was quite that important. We would wait for a break in the weather, and then go.

          Today, we probably feel like it's worth going out in the rain to stay connected. Not us personally, of course, but certainly for the people who fix the phone, the television and the electricity.
           Still, it was exciting to have the phone ring. Especially in winter. Our entertainment was pretty much limited to the arrival of the Monkey Wards catalogue and news about how high the river was getting.
          Well, I'm still interested in how high that river gets but now I'm also interested in who else wants to know.


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