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The Old Switchboard
Part Ten
by Romaine Walburn & Maricia Mlynek

Updated on Wednesday*:

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In the fall of 1968, the Haught’s daughter, Romaine, had a friend visit. His name was Pete Walburn. He would one day marry Romaine, but would not win her heart with his ability to help with the telephone company. During his visit to Key, a terrible storm hit, and over half of the phone lines went out. The crew of boys and Romaine worked until dark to put all but one line back in service.

Next morning, the first chore was to fix the final line. Unfortunately, most of its lines were off the road, so it would be a long walk. Walburn decided to go along and help. The walk was about two miles to check each span. Naturally, in the last meadow, they found the tangled wires. Pete volunteered to untangle the wires. Big mistake!

In all of the 10 years that the untangling crew worked on the lines, they had never once lost the stick, but there is a first time for everything. On his first toss, he laid the untangling stick across the wires. There it was, 15 feet high, right in the middle of the longest span of wires that Key Mutual maintained. Not only did Pete put the “untangler” out of reach, he also managed to down all three connecting lines to Pipe Creek.

The crew had another long walk through woods and cow pasture to the last house to get another stick. After the hike back, it took them an hour to get the notorious stick to fall off the top of the wires. Finally, the wires fell loose and the untangling was complete.

By time the crew arrived back at the telephone company, Betty had lunch ready, and Paul was curious as to what the crew had gotten into during the many hours away from home. He said he was ready to send for a search crew. He laughed and said he was certain they had wrapped Pete up in Pipe Creek wires, seeing that he was a city boy from down the river.

They laughed right along with him, but admitted that he was closer to the truth than he could even imagine. Pete never got hold of another tangle stick.

It seems that the “mutual” part of the telephone company’s name expressed its meaning in many ways. Most fitting would be in mutual fun, adventures, traumas, tears and laughter. This was especially true for the repair crew during those many years.

(Continued Next Week)

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