As the 50’s turned to the 60’s, most of the little
telephone companies went from ring down to dial telephones. The Wheeling
area went dial in 1955. The Bellaire, Ohio, area went dial in 1956, but
the three little companies in Belmont County held on to their ring down
until the late 1960’s.
In the fall of 1968, the urge for a more up-to-date
service began to change the mind set of the little local telephone
companies. Powhatan was first, then Centerville, and finally the Key
Some were very excited about the change, but there were
others completely opposed to the whole idea. They knew they would miss
their very unusual answering service. Key Mutual was a way to keep
connected; it was a service of more than calls and communication. It was
a family. Key Mutual held out until the spring of 1970.
The Haught family had provided the services for many
years. Betty and Paul were nearing retirement age. Though they had been
faithful and committed to Key Mutual, the years were not easy. Many
sacrifices were made. Seldom did anyone realize that the family could
not all leave the house.
Many events were only attended by Paul or Betty. Very
few did they get to go attend together, as someone had to man the lines.
In fact, all of their children had grown, and grandkids were becoming
plentiful, but trips to see them were almost impossible.
The thought of freedom from the telephone office seemed
almost too good to be true. The Haught children were very excited. The
hope that their parents could have normal retirement years was in reach.
Romaine was particularly thrilled at realizing, in just a few months,
her parents would be free to travel and see her new home and new baby,
Key Mutual was next to the last ring down in Ohio to go
dial. Huron was the last in the mid-1970s. On Apr. 5, 1970, the wires
were scheduled to be cut and the switchboard removed. Ironically, this
was the birthday of Betty Haught. Freedom to travel and leave her home
without worry was a great birthday present.
Romaine traveled back to Key with her newborn for the
exciting weekend. It was a big occasion. There was 10 inches of snow
that Monday morning, and a huge group of neighbors who came to the
telephone office to say “Goodbye” to the old switchboard and a way of
Paul made one request that morning. He asked that
Romaine be allowed to cut the Haught home free from the lines outside
and the switchboard inside. With wire cutter in hand, she cut all 100
wires and the cable inside.
Though many were sad, the Haughts were excited and
thrilled. For the first time since Romaine was born, the entire family
was able to leave the house. Paul and Betty, along with their daughter
and new granddaughter, got in the car and headed for a supper