Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One of My Favorite Jobs

Over the years I've had lots of jobs, some of them great, some not so great.

I started babysitting when I was 10 and continued on through high school, I did housework for neighbors, cared for the bedridden, worked in an auto parts store, took inventory in a department store all before I was 18.

After I was married, hubby was in the Navy and I went home to live with my parents while he had tours of duty out of the country. During this time I worked in the office for the telephone company and then became an information operator. This was in L.A. That office was fairly modern since the Information calls came in through a headset and all you had to do was look up the number in several phone books, or on charts with the most frequent called numbers. (Remember, this was a long, long time ago.)

When hubby and I moved to Oxnard, I went to work for General Telephone. That office was a bit more backward as you had to use a switch board to get the calls. I also had to learn how to be a long-distance operator, a bit more complicated than finding phone numbers for people. At this office we were told if we knew the answer to any question, we could give it. People called and asked what the weather was like, and I'd look out the window and tell them what I saw. If they asked how to cook Chili I told them.

Long distance was more fun. We sat at a long switchboard and took the calls as they came in. There were a lot of movie stars living in nearby Thousand Oaks and we took care of all their long distance calls. I must confess that we listened in to a lot of them. Guess what, their conversations were about as exciting as any of ours.

I worked at that telephone office between babies. Hubby would come home from war--or wherever he happened to be--I'd get pregnant, work until they wouldn't let me anymore, have the baby, stay home with the kids. I'd go back to work, Hubby would leave for a tour of duty, come back home, I'd get pregnant and so on.

Fifth baby, we broke the cycle. Hubby retired from the Seabees and I got a different job.

I was reminded of all this when I visited our little museum. One of the women who helps with the museum and has lived in Springville her entire life, used to work on the first switchboard when she was a kid--because it was in her house. She and her mother were the operators. That switchboard is now one of the exhibits in the museum.

a.k.a. F. M. Meredith


  1. Great blog!

    Thinking about the evolution of the telephone - from switchboard to cell phone. Now we can be in touch 24/7, wherever we are. Not sure if that is an improvement!?


  2. Great Post, Marilyn. You have led a very colorful life! How fun to be on the phone all day and get paid for it!

  3. I enjoyed your blog very much. I had an aunt who was a telephone operator before the Ma Bell breakup. I think she enjoyed that job a lot.

    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David