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The Old Switchboard
Continued from last week
by Romaine Walburn & Maricia Mlynek

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By 1936, there were several more customers using the service of Key Mutual, but we will start with the very first.

Mr. McKelvey was a farmer, a banker, and a church deacon. He was always trying to figure out ways to make his work easier, and that is where the trouble begins.

He had a huge herd of dairy cows. He milked them faithfully and shipped his milk to Barnesville, Ohio, but he had a problem with his shipping method.

He had to ship his milk on the Narrow Gauge Railroad. Everyone knew that the Narrow Gauge was on a tight schedule. Old McKelvey had to have the milk at the Key Station by 8 a.m., or he could miss the train.

Like all forms of public transportation, sometimes the schedule didn’t follow the clock, and the train might not get there until noon.

That was a huge problem for the dairy farmer. By noon, his milk could be as curdled as cottage cheese.

Not to worry, old McKelvey was very resourceful. Soon, he began to use the old telephone lines to call different suppliers of various materials, and we couldn’t tell what he was getting into. Then the word came that he had built himself a makeshift railroad buggy. Like we said, he was brilliant.

The next thing was to devise a plan. He made his housekeeper sit outside and listen for the train whistle. The instant she heard it coming up the valley from Shadyside, she ran to tell him. He would then hurry down the hill with his milk cans.

The railroad engineer got quite upset over this new adventure. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to take the milk. No, the real worry was that he had to wait for McKelvey to go back up the tracks ahead of him. You can imagine the colorful language which was shouted up the tracks at the old farmer.

Something had to be done. Calls were coming in and out. People were guessing about what the railroad men would do, and sure enough something was done.

It only took a few days before the engineer made up his mind that a new stop on the railway schedule was necessary. He ordered a platform be built at “S trestle.”

McKelvey was thrilled, and the engineer was able to keep closer to his schedule. Everyone was happy. By the way, parts of that old platform are still visible. Things back then were built to last, unlike the rickety construction of today.

Key was becoming quite a hub of excitement. With the new platform, more than milk could be loaded on the Narrow Gauge.

The phone lines were hot with calls of visiting relatives, friends, and even farm equipment buzzing on the switchboard.

  (Continued Next Week)

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