Sepia Saturday – One Moment Please

Launched by Alan Burnett and Kat Mortensen in 2009, Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. 

My Grandmother Abbie was the oldest girl in a large family, and many responsibilities for the care of her younger siblings fell to her. As an older teen, she was eager to find employment to get herself out of the house. Her first job was at a grocery store, then Fuller Brush (I believe this was a store front – not door-to-door sales), and finally the telephone company in Fairfield, Iowa. My Dad says she liked working there and was delighted when she earned enough money to move out and live on her own.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of her working at the telephone company, but I did find this picture of the Fairfield Telephone Co. building which housed a Turkish restaurant as recently as 2009. Not sure of the status today.

Here is a picture of Grandma Abbie talking on the phone…

In an earlier Sepia Saturday post, I shared pictures of the Hedrick Y, near Hedrick, Iowa, where my grandparents owned a truck stop/cafe/grocery store. Most of those pictures were of the original building, but the bird’s eye view was taken after construction of a new building in 1956. My grandparents’ home was in the building that housed their business. When they tore down the business, they also tore down their home.

Since I spent many Saturday’s at the Hedrick Y, the deconstruction/construction site became my playground.

In both pictures, I see what looks like an old wooden crank-style phone near the working phone. It makes me wonder if it was jerry-rigged to provide an extension so they could use the phone without the building.

Don’t be shy – call on the other Sepia Saturday bloggers and see what they have done with today’s prompt.

25 comments on “Sepia Saturday – One Moment Please

  1. Alan BURNETT on said:

    Oh, well done. What a rich crop of fascinating old photographs featuring telephones.

  2. Deb Gould on said:

    What great photos! It’s amazing to think that kids today have never seen a phone that looks like that!

  3. Bob Scotney on said:

    Great old phones and a lovely smile on the lad ‘using’ the phone. Liked that old water pump in the same picture – I’ve seen one or two of those.

    • Bob, that lad was me – and I do look pretty happy talking to an imaginary someone. The water pump remained for many years. I remember pumping water from it (for fun).

  4. postcardy on said:

    It wasn’t easy to talk on the phone outside before cordless phones and cell phones.

  5. Peter Miebies on said:

    One more generation to go and people will think these were the first mobile phones :)
    Super pictures and so valuable!

  6. Mariann Regan on said:

    Wonderful photos, Kathy! It looks as if Grandma Abbie is talking on the same phone that you are talking on? (Assuming that is you in your “playground” talking on the phone. Darling and fun!) During those same years, I was playing round on construction sites where they were putting up new houses on our street. It was probably a bit dangerous, but such an adventure! Thank you for this view of the near past!

    • Yes it’s me using the same phone. I’m glad there are pictures as I was so young that I probably wouldn’t remember much about it. I did a lot of things I know I didn’t let my kids do and I’m probably the better for it. Thanks for your comments Mariann!

  7. Jana Last on said:

    That old Fairfield Telephone building is so cool! And the photos you’ve shared with us are great! Love that old wooden crank-style telephone too. Very neat!

    • I was happy to find a picture of the building. I looked at a lot of “main street” pictures of the town, hoping to find it and then I got lucky. Thanks for your comments, Jana!

  8. Karen S. on said:

    Bravo- love these real life photos- especially the little one, and even the smiles through all that mess to clean up! The dog reminds me of a shaved cocker-spaniel?

    • I imagine the dog – Kay – was a mutt/mix of some kind. She apparently liked the food around there. Thanks for your kind comments, Karen!

  9. TICKLEBEAR on said:

    Interesting that they kept the old signage of the phone company on the building, but what an odd twist to see it now as a turkish café…
    Love your pics and she does look to me like she’s calling to report a disaster.
    ;)
    HUGZ

    • It definitely looks like a disaster! And Grandma is still smiling…. not sure I would be. Yeah, the old building and the “Istanbul Grill” are quite a contrast.

  10. Wow the first one of your grandmother outside talking on the phone is unique, that had to be some very long phone line! It looks as if a tornado moved through and all that was left standing was your Gran, and the dog and she is calling to report it on the phone?

    • Your story certainly fits the picture! It is a mess, isn’t it? But just part of their rebuilding process. I keep looking at the picture and I think there is a very long phone line from somewhere down the right side of the picture to the old wooden phone and then another long cord from that phone connecting it to the one she is talking on. Thanks for stopping by, Pat!

  11. Liz Stratton on said:

    These are truly great photographs! I am surprised there weren’t any pictures in my collection of people on the phone. I loved seeing yours and am intrigued by the first photograph. It would make a great prompt for a short story ….

    • Thanks for your comments, Liz! I’m not much of a short story writer. My grandmother took quite a few pictures during the time they rebuilt their home/business with a few notes on some of them. Once I scan them, I’ll probably write something up. But I agree – it would be a good picture for someone with an imagination!

  12. Wonderful photos! I couldn’t find anyone on the phone in any of my pictures. In fact, I found only one photo that even had a phone in it. Those old black phones were some heavy duty equipment that could be used as a lethal weapon!

  13. You triggered my memory of long phone lines on the old phones, you could wander from the hall (cold) where the phone was to the living room (warm). Although I don’t think that had one as long as your grandmothers. Great photos and memories.

  14. Kat Mortensen on said:

    Well, you win the prize for most captivating photo of the week! That one with your Grandma on the phone with the chubby dog next to her is a CLASSIC! I thought I was looking at the aftermath of a tornado, and was about to make all sorts of murmurs of commiseration. Now I am just laughing out loud!

    Great post!

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