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The North Bend Eagle


Added numbers sign of the times

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 2/23/11

The long anticipated change to ten-digit phone numbers will arrive Saturday. It’s not that we haven’t had plenty of warning, it’s just that the time is finally here.

How the extra nano-second it takes to dial 4-0-2 or 5-3-1 will effect us, has yet to be determined. Yet for those who remember party lines or dialing the last four digits only, it is another sign of the times.

Telephones and telephone numbers have seen changes since they first came into our lives the beginning of the 20th century. The rotary phone without using an operator to complete a call started in the 1920s. Push button phones were introduced in 1962, and in 1983 the first cellular phone system began nationwide use.

Don Kruger began working for Farmers Telephone in 1972. At that time only four digits were required to dial a North Bend number.

“I remember Margaret Kloke was the operator in the old phone office,” said Kruger, a North Bend native. “In 1960 we went from operator assisted phone calls to all dial.”

For the operator assisted phone numbers, only two digits were needed. When automatic dialing started, Kruger, 64, remembers dialing three numbers and a letter. There were also up to ten homes sharing a phone line. In 1974 Kruger said Farmers Telephone laid 968 miles of cable around North Bend, Scribner, Snyder, Dodge and Webster taking the party lines down to four households. In the early 1980s modernization at the phone company got rid of party lines. In 1989 the phone company now owned by Great Plains, made the switch to all digital requiring area residents to dial all seven digit number.

Between 1990 and 2010, cellular phones world wide have grown from 12.4 million to 4.6 billion. They are running out of phone numbers. So numbers are being lengthened, area codes added.

“It’ll be a pain, just another thing to get used to,” Lori Bunn, 48, said.
Bunn grew up south of Howells and remembers having party lines.

“If we needed to call town to order a part for dad and we’d pick up the phone and someone would be talking. We’d just have to wait.”

Cindy Lisko will have to reset all her re-dial numbers on the business phones at the post office.

“That’ll be easy enough,” Lisko, 53, said. “But to dial customers I’ll have to dial the three extra digits. It’s just a hassle, but things change all the time.”

Lisko grew up in the county south of Minden. She remembers having a wooden phone they had to crank to use until she was around 10 when her family got a rotary dial phone.

Cathy Brush, 51, grew up in Los Angles and always had a rotary dial phone. Her daughter, Jamie Brush, 26, grew up in North Bend and remembers having a rotary dial phone. Jamie doesn’t have a landline phone, and has all area codes programed into her cell phone, so thought she was aware of the new area code change, says it doesn’t really effect her.

Cathy didn’t know much about the new area code changes, but did read something about it on an insert with her phone bill.

Robin Evans, 48, lives in North Bend and just has a landline. She knew the area code change was coming, but didn’t know when.

“I’m just not sure if it’ll be long distance,” Evans said.

Sitting with her were Amborsha Vylidal, 27, of Morse Bluff, and Brenda Palmer, 43, of Ames. Neither of them have land lines so they are used to dialing the added area code.

Lavonne Ladehoff said she knew it was coming, but has been “spacing it off until time.”

“My daughter, Jenny, reminded me that she remembered when she just had to dial four digits,” Ladehoff, 68, said. “It’s going to be interesting to remember to dial the 4-0-2. Just so it isn’t the 5-3-1 number.”

Agnes Buresh, 74, said she has been practicing dialing the 4-0-2.

“I just have to get in the habit,” Buresh said.

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