A telephone on display at the Washburn-Zittleman House Museum on West Courtland; used by the Deer Creek Telephone Co., organized in 1920, sold to Bell Telephone in 1965; the phone was a gift from area resident Rollin Shipton.
A telephone on display at the Washburn-Zittleman House Museum on West Courtland; used by the Deer Creek Telephone Co., organized in 1920, sold to Bell Telephone in 1965; the phone was a gift from area resident Rollin Shipton.
Seventy-five years ago the Racine Telephone Co. issued its 3-l/2" x 5" 1937 directory, 14 pages plus covers that boasted 20 ads.

Prominent on the front cover were four Spring Valley businesses:

1) First National Bank: "We appreciate your business;" phone 17

2) G.L. Boucsein, DVM, "Veterinarian," phone 192 (My "Grandpa Doc," whose office was on Tracy Road)

3) "Sward-Kemp Drug Co., E.B. Peterson, Druggist, Poultry and Stock Remedies at reduced prices, Paint, Drugs, Wallpaper," phone 120

4) Jorris & Sons: "Funeral Service - Ambulance - phones 179 & 37," plus Stewartville National Bank, "Member of the Federal Reserve System, phone 131" and Dr. F.H. Rosenthal, Physician & Surgeon, Grand Meadow, phone 56.

Inside the front cover at Racine: Jas. A. Smith Lumber Co. managed by my great-uncle, O.R. Steffens, where they featured "Lumber, Coal, Paint, Everything in building materials, American Fencing, Red Top steel posts, Coal that satisfies."

Two blocks away from my home (nothing in town was more than two blocks away!) was Alfred Edgar's service station: "Sinclair Petroleum Products, Tank Wagon Deliveries, Garage in Connection." I vividly remember the night I was babysitting across the street when the station, garage and upstairs living quarters burned to the ground - a horrifying experience. No lives lost, but their business and home gone.

On the back cover, six ads, four from Spring Valley:

1) The Rexall Drug Store: "Prescriptions accurately filled, Best Paint and Wallpaper, Toilet Articles and Sundries, Fountain Service, next to Post Office."

2) Marchant's Super Service: "Radiator Repairing, Radios and Electrical Service, Tires and Battery Service, Phone 222."

3) Tony Distel: "Our new funeral home's the finest in southeastern Minnesota, Ambulance Service, Phones 93 and 229."

4) Washburn Studio: "Your photo today is a remembrance tomorrow. Children's portraits a specialty."

Inside the back cover: Freeborn Rendering Service of Waseca had a Spring Valley number and offered "Dead animals removed free of charge - horses, cows, calves or hogs with hides on. Manufacturer of Double A brand tankage and meat and bone scraps. A new modern sanitary dry rendering plant under state supervision."

At the top of six pages, a brief "Jorris & Son maintains a funeral home and ambulance; 33 years of service, phones 37 and 179." On the Professional Page, in Spring Valley: Dr. C. W. Zittleman, Osteopathic Physician; Dr. Julia (Handberg) Boucsein (my Grandpa Doc's second wife), a chiropractor, Palmer School Graduate, phone 293; from Stewartville: Dr. A.F. Risser, Physician & Surgeon; and Dr. A.O. Hagen, Dentist; from Grand Meadow: Dr. E.J. Van Bronkhorst, Dentist.

A full page from Spring Valley included the following:

1) Dr. R.A. Scothorn, Veterinarian & Vet Hospital

2) Joe Guise, "Auto wrecking, tires, auto parts, glass; best prices paid for hides, furs, wool, scrap iron, metals"

3) "Bring your milk and cream to Spring Valley Co-op Creamery Co., owned and operated by farmers."

4) Herman Lundby's Garage - "Sales & Service for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, and Frigidaires, phone 265."

5) Ezra Allard of Spring Valley boasted "Fine Jewelry and Watch Repairing."

From Racine, were the following ads:

1) Thompson's Grocery - "Staple and Fancy Groceries, Fresh and Smoked Meats, phone 4"

2) John Metcalf Implement -"Minnesota Farm Implements, Hardware, Shell Petroleum Products"

3) Racine Oil Co., Inc. - "The only independent 'from tank car directly to you' oil dealer in southern Minnesota, the Best for Less. Firestone Tires, phone 66"

Other business listings: Cuttings Store, The Depot (Chicago Great Western ran through town); Farmers' Elevator, and Racine Creamery. From Grand Meadow: H. Odden - "Furniture, Carpet, Upholstery, Pianos, Undertaking a Specialty." It was fascinating to see many phone numbers for firms that dealt with automobiles: Shell Oil Station, George Simpson, Sinclair Service Station, Racine Oil Co., and Metcalf.

In Stewartville, Fords at Stewartville Motor Co. and in Rochester, Grundmeyer Co. distributed Plymouth and DeSoto; there was a Body & Fender Works, plus Bemel's Used & New Auto and Tractor Parts.

Of course there was a full page of rules and regulations for phone company customers plus charges for monthly rental of their equipment: individual line, business, $2.75; two-party line, business, $2.50; individual line, residential, $1.75; multiple-party line, rural, $1.75, lodges and clubs, $1.75. A discount of 25 cents per month would be allowed if bill was paid by the 15th of the month.

Office hours (to reach the operator) were 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and only emergency calls answered during the night. (How would they know it was an emergency?) General call was one long ring. As I remember, that was how we learned that President FDR had died.

Final admonitions:

1) In the event of default of payment, the company reserves the right to discontinue service and remove its telephone equipment. No renewal until all sums due for service are paid.

2) Answer only your own ring.

What a time it was - telephones were a wonder and a privilege. Think how far we have come today with those handheld devices that connect us with anyone and everyone. Still a wonder!