There wasn’t too much more excitement for the people of
Key until the winds of war began to howl in Europe. This caused more and
more people to desire phones in their homes. By 1940 there were over 25
phones in Key’s homes, not counting the ones belonging to the gas
On Dec. 7, 1941, it was a cloudy, cold Sunday afternoon.
The first call on that day came from Willard Neff, the
local fruit farmer. He asked the operator if she had heard the news
about Pearl Harbor. She had, of course. He asked her to call all of the
customers and tell them, because he was sure some didn’t have radios.
This was a sad day because of the news that was shared
over the lines of the switchboard.
Over the years, the switchboard was a source of both
good and bad news. Calls came to warn people about all sorts of things
during those war years.
Calls came in about soldiers going to war. Happy calls
rang when they came home. The devastating calls were the ones that
always ended in tears when soldiers were injured, killed, or never
coming home. Those were hard years for everyone.
Some called the switchboard a hero during the war. The
War Department made it part of a cross country bypass for the East West
Cable, a main artery for telephones from one coast to the other.
Little telephone companies all across the country were
asked to participate in a program that would allow phone calls to
continue in the event that the East West Cable was destroyed.
They came and hooked everything up directly through
Wheeling to Bellaire, Centerville, Barnesville, and Quaker City, Ohio.
Calls were sent in both directions--some going toward
Washington, D.C., and others toward Los Angeles, Calif.. The switchboard
and its operating family, the Haughts, were proud to serve their country
in this matter.
There are lots of other war stories. Almost all of the
young men in the community went away to war. Only the farm boys and
fathers were left behind.
The Haughts wrote letters and sent packages every week.
The Scales family had two boys and a girl go to war. They were special
friends. The operator, Betty, had a baby that came close to the end of
the war. She named the baby for the Scales’ daughter, Romaine, an Army
Everyone was family in Key, although they didn’t share
the normal genealogical links.
Besides the calls that came through the old wires, the
switchboard was a proud display area for pictures of local boys and
girls wearing uniforms and fighting on foreign soil.
Countless nights and days were spent by families praying
for the home line to ring and the voice of their son or daughter to be
on the other end.
This is true of our phones today. The comfort that can
be felt from a mere “hello” of a deployed soldier is something one
cannot explain. The old switchboard made that possible for the people of
(Continued Next Week)