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Day 412 Bell

Daily Note

Every day, a photograph, a poem.

Look what we step over almost every day as we take the path to Fiddle Creek and the foot bridge over it.

Finally, I stopped to take a look and found a flash of history before me: a manhole cover from the old telephone company, Ma Bell.

In this area, it was called Pacific Northwest Bell. Ma Bell brought us together, especially in rural areas where lines for electricity and the telephone changed the lives for all those isolated by distance. To be sure, it was the Rural Electrification Administration started by President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt that provided the funding for these and the modernization of rural areas, especially in North Dakota where I grew up:

In 1935 only 2.3 percent of North Dakota’s farms had electricity from central power stations, the lowest percentage in the nation. Rural electric cooperatives received their first loan in 1936 and put their first line into operation in 1937 at Cando. Expansion came after the war. Rural Electrification Administration loans reached their peak in 1949, and by 1954 some 90 percent of North Dakota’s farms had electricity. By 1960, twenty-four North Dakota cooperatives had borrowed $119,000,000, built 53,000 miles of power lines, and brought electricity to 65,000 customers, including an estimated 52,000 farms. In 1954 the R.E.A. began to make loans for rural telephone systems in North Dakota. By 1960 it had lent $23,000,000, and 36,000 farms had telephones. With electricity, the whole aspect of farm life changed; television sets, home freezers, electric milk coolers, and many other appliances lightened the work load and began to wipe out the differences between rural and town living.

Robinson, Elwyn B., “History of North Dakota” (2017). Open Educational Resources. 1. p. 460

And it was Ma Bell that I remember both in North Dakota in the 1960s and in the 1970s in Washington state. But it was working strong in 1910 in the United States:

Advertisement, AT&T, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bell System was broken up in 1984, and many thought it was a great idea, except when our phone costs increased and service decreased. Then we missed “Ma Bell.” Sometimes, “universal service” is good for the public need.


“Ma Bell,” one system, 

connected talk with wires, long

distances, shortened.

Sheri Edwards
042921 11936521

Sheri Edwards View All

Geeky Gramma ~~
Retired Middle School Language Arts/Media Teacher ~~
Writer and Thinker~~
Art from the Heart

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