Directory assistance
Ring some numbers and facts into your family tree

Today we live in a world of memorizing numbers and codes. Let's see, I must remember the number of my PIN card for the banking machine, social insurance number, medicare number, computer password, house number, civic address for the camp and seven digit telephone numbers.

Until 1942, the only number I had to know was my birth date. The new number I memorized that year has stayed imbedded in my memory bank ­ fifty three ring three.

Now you are asking, "What was that code for?"

Great excitement and anticipation preceded the learning of this code. Our communities were getting a telephone line!

Numbers now became very important. Everyone rushed to answer the phone when our household heard three short rings. The phone was a wooden box with a nose-like mouth piece and the earphone resembled a black paper cup on a string. On the right hand side was a crank.

If I wanted to phone Gram, I turned the handle for two long rings followed by two short rings. Her number was fifty three ring twenty-two.

If we heard three long rings followed by one short one, we knew Claude was being called. One long ring and three short ones would bring Clarence rushing from the hen house and four short rings caused Louie to pause from serving a customer.

Theodore's family answered to four long rings followed by one short ring and Murray's family came running when they heard five short rings.

One long ring alerted the operator in Hampton to answer with, "Number, please?" Then she rang you through to a party on another line.

Can you imagine one line serving 24 homes? Some of the housewives had problems getting their chores completed on time as they would sometimes listen in on the conversations of the party line.

In 1892, an advertisement stated that telephone communications could be had with the following places on the lines of the New Brunswick Telephone Co., Ltd. ­ Fredericton, Oromocto, Burton, Upper Gagetown, Gagetown, Hampstead, Evandale, Oak Point, Westfield, Saint John, Rothesay, Hampton, Sussex, Penobsquis, Petitcodiac, Salisbury, Moncton, Memramcook, St. Joseph's College, Dorchester and Sackville. Connecting with the St. Martin's Telephone Co., Ltd., at St. John were: Ben Lomond, Black River, St. Martins and Salmon River.

"The Official Telephone Directory - Southern Division July, 1932" lists:
Miss Ada McIntyre as living at 116 Adelaide St., Saint John;
Fred Parkhill was at Red Bank in the Chipman exchange;
In the Hampstead exchange we find Mrs. Mabel G. Slipp;
In the Hampton exchange, H.V. Dickson is the high sheriff and his residence is Hammond River; Lister & Embleton had a General Store at McAdam;
Harold Polock is listed as living at Mercer Settlement in the Norton exchange;
According to a St. Andrews listing, The Misses Morris reside at Cottage Number 2, Montague; Archie McVicar resides on the Canal Road in St. George exchange;
Leonard J. Pomeroy is living at Mayfield in the St. Stephen exchange;
In Sussex exchange, L. H. Floyd is living at Apohaqui and in
Calais, Miss Carolyn Washburn resides at 5 Swan.

Don't overlook the Yellow Pages.

At times, the information from a telephone directory has provided me with that little extra piece of proof that I needed. On other occasions, I am just being nosey by checking to see if a relative had a phone.

The Saint John Free Public Library has telephone directories on microfilm starting in 1889.

Ring some numbers and facts into your family tree by using the telephone directory.

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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