The story of the Key switchboard began in a quiet little
farm community in the beautiful hills of eastern Ohio.
It was named Key for the railroad station that was
located at the forks of several roads. The Key Station was a focal point
of a narrow gauge train.
Key was the kind of place that each of you could relate
to. It was a place where people would sit and watch the fireflies and
listen for the tree frogs. It was a place with only one store, no street
lights, and everyone knew everyone.
It was also a place of great opportunity for mischief,
plenty of prize-winning colorful characters, and some of the most
unbelievable people you could ever hope to meet.
It was a place where the neighbor was your second grade
teacher. The church deacon was also your local dairy farmer, and a man
named “Foxy” could drive his Ford tractor everywhere he went.
It was a place of myth and mystery, as well as wholesome
truths, Biblical morals, and heartfelt feelings. Many a great person has
been raised in Key.
Some have gone on to become experts in various venues.
Over the years, we have had someone majoring in almost every field--from
education and theology to bologna and bull.
The switchboard was the hub of all incoming and outgoing
communication for Key.
Originally, it used to sit in the charming living room
of an old farmhouse owned by two elderly sisters. It served only five
The line to the outside world went to Bellaire, Ohio,
and then to Wheeling, W.Va. These were the only connections due to the
location of gas offices.
Two of its customers were required to report to the gas
offices every few hours each day. The other three customers were farmers
who were also businessmen.
Life was rather quiet in that farm house, except for a
few good fights between the operators, the White sisters.
Mostly, they fought over who was going to answer the
calls. “It is your turn!” the sisters would yell at one another. This
would go on for a long time before one would give up.
Finally, you could hear the shout of “Key!” into the
headpiece for a country mile.
The switchboard was located with those fine old ladies
during the depression and the few years that followed. It spent more
than 35 years in that old farm house.
Then one day, the White sisters finally agreed on
something. They agreed to get rid of it. It had been in their home since
1901. In 1936, it was moved out the road a ways to the littlest house in
This is truly where the stories began. The tales we are
about to share are from memories. As to how much is fact and how much is
fiction--who knows. We may change some names every now and then to
protect the innocent.
Join us on the partyline of memories, as we think back
to a time and place when life was simpler, sweeter, and sometimes
stranger than one could imagine.