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Telephones


Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Monday, February 12, 2001

It is Saturday and the telephone rang again for about the sixth time and it is only two p.m. The various jingles, tones, and warbling throughout the house barely stir me. The kids will get it. The phone hardly ever rings for me anymore. I certainly do not get my share of the calls and that is all right. It is a relief to hear the phone ring and have it be for someone else.

My wife happened to be reading a newspaper story this morning that referred to "party lines" out on the farms. We both grew up when one telephone per house and one line per neighborhood were the norm. Today, we have four phones in our house that work, a couple in desk drawers that might work, two cell phones and nobody to talk to. Well, it isn’t that bad, but I think this might be called communications overkill. We have twice as many phones in the house as people to use them.

When I was growing up, our telephone on the farm was a rotary dial black plastic wall phone that hung in the kitchen. This was the only phone on the farm for many years before extensions were added in a bedroom and eventually the barn. One telephone in a six-person household made private conversations fairly difficult with the kitchen on one side and the living room on the other. Privacy was a relative term anyway, always keeping in mind that this was a party line.

I recall that our party line ring was "four shorts". As we ate our meals next to the phone, all conversation stopped when the phone started ringing. We didn’t know until after the first couple of rings whether or not one of us was being called upon or whether it was for one of our neighbors. It could have been two longs for the Sonnenbergs or any of the other combinations for the Kroenings, Beighleys, or Bethkes. It was something to talk about and a cause for concern if a neighbor got more than a couple calls in a short time. Even though it was a focal point in the farm home, the telephone was still just another farm tool. When you talked, you talked fast and listened for the click that indicated that a neighbor wanted in. We lived in a very polite part of the world.

But, there is almost always an exception. One summer Saturday afternoon, one of the neighbor boys put on quite a party for his buddies. His parents were not home and he had invited some of his city friends out for the weekend. The traffic going by our farm was much heavier than normal as the city boys drove their hot cars back .....
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Tooting our own horn

Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Monday, February 19, 2001

It is usually at this time of year, after the groundhogs have seen their shadows and spring seems like an eternity away, that various news organizations hold their annual conferences. This is an opportunity for us new ..... 
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Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Editor’s note: The Journal invited the Houston Board of Education to respond to Ms. Tschumper’s letter.

To the Editor,
In November 2000 the Houston School Board approved a three-year contract for the district superintendent. L ..... 
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Monday, February 19, 2001

Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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To the Editor,
I felt stunned and dismayed to read in the “Notes from a County Kitchen” column (Feb. 12, 2001) the quip that “A small town is where everybody not only knows which men beat their wives, but also which wives need it.”

N ..... 
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Henry Ulring

Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Henry Ulring, 93, of Chatfield, retired manager of the Chatfield Creamery, died Tuesday, January 2, 2001, at Chosen Valley Care Center in Chatfield where he had resided since August 1998.

He was born March 14, 1907, in Webster, MN. On Sept. ..... 
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Lula Vix

Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Lula Vix, 88, of Houston, a longtime area farm homemaker, died Sunday, January 28, 2001, at Franciscan-Skemp Medical Center in La Crosse, WI.

Lula A. Ray was born May 6, 1912, in Houston County. She married Lloyd O. Vix in 1930 in Winona, an ..... 
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