The word Mutual in this telephone company title
makes it very unique and very different from all the other little
telephone companies in Eastern Ohio. It meant that each of the customers
owned and maintained their phone, fuses, battery and lines to their
When there were only a few phones, this worked
great, but, as the number increased, the line part became quite
Each line had a pair of wires strung from the
telephone office to the home of the customer. That was accomplished with
very few problems by farmers who built fence and knew how to string
wire. The poles were the issue.
One whole line was strung in two days. This pleased
Paul Haught, who was in charge of the lines, but when he went out with
the farmers to put insulators on the poles, he was rather surprised.
There were no poles. The wire was strung to trees.
This can be great for fences, but not for telephone
lines. He had a hard time convincing them that the trees grounded the
wires and would not work for telephone poles. The six miles of line took
more than three weeks to build.
That problem was settled, but soon another arose.
The wind from a hard storm could tangle the wires, and the lines would
be grounded out. The only way to put the lines back in service was to
untangle the wires. This sounds easy, but the wires in most places were
15 feet in the air and in spans of 30 feet.
The only thing that would untangle the wires was a
light weight round stick, like a broom handle. Each line had one of
these sticks located at the last house. This made it possible for the
person walking the line to have a “tangle stick.” A member of each
family was to learn how to use the stick.
It worked very well and with practice it was rather
easy. Most of the time, it was as simple as throwing the stick straight
up in the air to hit both lines at the same time. Voila, the line was
Though the concept was easy, only a few farmers
ever got the knack of untangling with the stick. They became very
frustrated with this process and eventually assigned the task to their
Thus, Haught had a crew of young boys and his
teenage daughter to walk the lines. Most of this crew became very good.
They always came back to the telephone office with a tall tale of the
adventure they had while fixing the lines. Some of these stories
included nests of snakes, encounters with a bull, unfriendly dogs, and
(Continued Next Week)