First Cardington telephone was installed in grocery store

Reflections - By Evelyn Long - for the Morrow County Sentinel

With the myriad of choices in private communication today I decided to research the history of the telephone in Cardington and Morrow County.

We all know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1875 but did you know the first telephone installed in Cardington was in the W. B Marvin Grocery store on October 24, 1885. The store was located at the corner of East Main and South Marion.

It was August 29, 1896 that the first telephone line connecting Cardington to Mount Gilead was completed on this date by the Peoples Telephone Company and the rental of a residential telephone cost a Morrow County subscriber $2 per month. When the telephone first appeared in Morrow County it was generally used to conduct business.

Mt Gilead’s first telephone directory had 38 listings when it was published in 1890. It wasn’t until 1899 when all communities in Morrow County were connected by telephone.

My memory of the local telephone does not go back THAT far but Ido remember turning the little crank on the side of the telephone which of course was attached to the wall and if no one was on the line chatting to another party, the operator up town would ask “Number, please?” Given the number the operator would ring it and if that line wasn’t busy my party would answer. It was really fun, though to get the latest news on your own party line if someone was chatting with another party. Sometimes they even talked about “me,” or someone I knew. Our family number was 29R21 and when two shorts and a long rang we knew that was a call to our home.

When the fire siren, located on the water tower, was activated by the operator, we would rush to the phone and call “Central” and inquire “Where’s the fire?” This siren also notified department members of the fire.

I remember when the telephone exchange was at the top of the stairway located between the grocery market on the corner of East Second and South Marion and the Hardware Store on the north. I remember some of the operators as Hazel Poorman, Dorothy Wilson, Evelyn Click, Janet Scott, Margaret Sheese and Doris Ruggles. Before them were Maggie and Alice Peppard in the 1930’s. It was on those stairs that the lookout for Dillinger sat while the robber was robbing the Citizens Bank across the street.

I will have more on Morrow County telephones next week.

Please try and visit the Morrow County Fair. We are so blessed to have an agricultural based fair. The youth groups, the FFA, 4-H. and school organizations have worked hard to prepare their projects, be it animal, cooking, school projects, etc. I believe these youngsters should be rewarded for doing good things. In addition, many adult groups work hard to prepare their entries which include, flowers, baked goods, sewing, animals, etc Growing up, my family regularly visited the Morrow County Fair. When we were youngsters our neighbors, Guy and Grace Renz, transported us daily to the fair – Guy was a fair board member- and we girls would visit every corner of that grounds. Later, my husband and I took our sons to the exposition every year. Good luck to each of you who has an entry. Now, if only the rain holds off!

100 years ago August 1915: Fifty Civil War veterans met with Spanish-American War Veterans when a picnic was held at the Morrow County fairgrounds. Among the speakers was Cardington School Superintendent W L Atwell, who at one time served in the Ohio Legislature

A daughter was born to Mr and Mrs. Cline Sherman.

90 years ago, August, 1925: Ford automobiles was the choice of car thieves in Central Ohio. “Lock your Ford” was the warning sounded for the summer. Twenty one cars were stolen in one day the previous week from cities within Central Ohio and of that number 17 were Fords.

70 years ago, August, 1945: Rationing of gasoline, canned goods, fuel oil and oil stoves was ended but the OPA announced that rationing of meats, fats and oils, butter, sugar, shoes tires and other commodities would continue indefinitely until military cutbacks and increased production could balance civilian supply and demand.

60 years ago, August, 1955: Announcement was made of the establishment of the Lillian James Scholarship, that was to go into effect with the graduating Class of 1956. Miss James was a beloved teacher and the award was established by her brother, Wilder James. The creation was announced to the Cardington Board of Education. The fund established a $1,000 award to be made annually to one member of the graduating class.

Miss James died April 6 1936 at the age of 64 after one day’s illness. She graduated from Cardington High school in 1898 at the age of 16 and began teaching the following autumn.


By Evelyn Long

for the Morrow County Sentinel