February 15, 2015
Telephone Service, 1880
Hopedale in February
Now and Then - Adin Street
Website additions to existing pages during the past two weeks include: Now and Then - The Icehouse and
West, Gannett House (Paragraph on the West-Gannett house from the National Register Nomination.) John
and Eleanor Hutchinson (Obituary for John) The Textileers (1957 Milford News article about the Textileers.)
Red Sox Play Yankees in Douglas, 1946 (Pictures of the 1946 Sox - and a ticket - see how much it cost to see
a World Series game then - plus comment added.) Now and Then - Chapel Street School Block (Article
about the school written at the time when it was razed.) Deaths
This (enrichment studies) has led to the criticism that oratory or public speaking is a lost art, a criticism which
a perusal of the speeches made in Congress seems to bear out; that the graduates of our public schools
write badly, and add a column of figures with slowness and inaccuracy. The critics do not appreciate that the
typewriter and adding machine will soon make writing and ciphering much less in demand than formerly,
exactly as modern cotton machinery has relegated the spinning wheel and hand loom to the garret. Herbert F.
Taylor, Superintendent of Hopedale Schools, 1903
The new desk bought last year has been placed in front of the windows in the children's alcove, and books
circulated during the afternoon are charged and discharged there. By this arrangement it is possible to
substitute natural light, for several hours each day, in place of the artificial light, always necessary at the
central desk. Harriet B. Sornborger, Librarian, 1910 At that time, the children's section was just a little alcove
upstairs. In 1927, Anna Bancroft funded the establishment of the children's room downstairs, now known as
the Marjorie Hattersley Children's Room.
Phone Service, 1880
By Gordon E. Hopper
Residents of Milford are known to have been using the telephone as early as 1880. The success of the
instrument was evidently instantaneous because three years later, the telephone company was petitioning the
town for permission to place more poles on the public streets.
The telephone company continued its expansion until it was recorded in 1888 that there were 75 telephone
lines in the town. Plans were underway in 1887 to extend the service to Hopedale and to Upton. The
development continued and in 1901, telephone wires were being placed underground and in 1930, the poles
on Main Street were removed
A sharp improvement in Milford telephone service was noted in 1913 when a battery system was installed.
Previously, the turning of a small crank would ring a bell in the telephone operator's ear. This gave access to
central and the operator would make the connection. With the new battery system in operation, the lifting of the
receiver automatically signaled central.
Further extensive improvements were made in 1929 with more than $25,000 being expended in various
phases of the work.
The telephone service and equipment sustained a tremendous blow in 1921, when on November 27, 28 and
29, one of Milford's worst sleet storms paralyzed all traffic and raised havoc with all wiring. Out of 911 circuits
and 2,208 telephones, 725 circuits went out of service and the toll lines leading out of town went down. Only
the lines to Framingham and Boston, which were in cable, withstood the storm. More than 70 men were
added to the crews to repair the damage as quickly as possible.
In 1915, there were 1,176 subscribers in Milford with ten operators. Five years later the number had reached
1,723, with a corresponding increase in the number of operators.
In 1923, the operators went out on strike, but service was not materially delayed. In 1925, there were 2,867
subscribers, and by 1930 there were 3,509 with 30 operators. The increase in 15 years was approximately
Another electrical form of communication - the telegraph - had a history synonymous with that of the
telephone, although the non-local nature of the system made it less noticeable.
The local telegraph business steadily increased and later, the Morse keys were replaced with automatic
sending and receiving machines, thus making of the telegraph a speedier and more accurate public servant.
As early as 1907, a man by the name of George L. Cooke on Silver Hill advanced the claim of discovering the
wireless. Records fail to show that Cooke received much credit for his discovery, but it is comforting to know
that a Milford person was working at apparatus which is today now widely used.
Research material used in this feature story was supplied by Robin Philbin of Milford. Milford Daily News.
Here's how the Draper Company could be reached in 1903, according to a Draper publication from that year.
"Telegrams are telephoned to us from the Milford office of the Western Union Co. If addressed to Hopedale
they will reach us promptly. Our long distance telephone call is Milford 26-13, 12 and 3." Textile Texts, p. ix,
Voted – That for various reasons, especially the compactness of the town population, a telephone is
unnecessary in the library. Bancroft Library Trustees, 1912
The question of a telephone was presented and it was voted to install a two party line in the Library as an
experiment. Bancroft Library Trustees, 1919 At a meeting several months later, the trustees' minutes report,
The most noticeable improvement this year has been the installation of telephone service. This has already
proved of great assistance, and its increasing use indicates that the patrons of the Library appreciate its
convenience and the many advantages it affords.
The High School, the South and the Dutcher Street buildings have been supplied with telephone connections.
This much needed convenience is greatly appreciated. We are trying to arrange the use of these so that they
will not become a nuisance, but rather a help to all concerned, especially in case of emergency. Electric lights
in the buildings not now equipped, will be of service on the short and dark days. Carroll H. Drown,
Superintendent of Schools, 1920.
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The picture above was taken on February 3. A
lot more snow fell after that. The ones below
were taken on February 9 and February 12.