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BY MIKE AVITT
I took this week’s photo in April 2005 and it appears the old telephone office was vacant at this time. Let’s look at some of Mount Ayr’s telephone history.
I find it remarkable that telephone service in Mount Ayr, which began in 1895, came so far ahead of things like electricity (1909) and running water (1914). By 1896, some of the smaller towns in Ringgold County had telephone service.
The first telephone office was located upstairs at 122 S. Taylor, William Timby’s brick block on the southeast corner of the square. Later, a long-distance office was located in an addition to the rear of 122 S. Taylor. But, a new office building was needed and that came in 1927.
Under the leadership of Ringgold County Mutual Telephone Company President George Moffatt, bids were let for the construction of a new telephone office at 103 E. Monroe. Rusk Brothers were awarded the contract at $6,500 and work began in the fall of 1927.
The building would be 29’ x 36’ with a full basement. The material would be concrete, brick, and steel and the office was finished by April 1928. However, not all of the new equipment arrived in a timely manner and the new office didn’t begin service until October 1928. J. S. Buck was the manager when the new building opened.
In April 1961, Iowa State Telephone Company acquired the Mount Ayr telephone company and Charles Meacham replaced Cora Robinson as manager. And big changes were on the horizon.
Mount Ayr converted to the “dial system” in April 1966 and two months later, Open House was held at the new office building at 300 S. Taylor. The Iowa State Telephone Corp. welcomed over 500 people for this event. Attorney Arlen Hughes occupied the former telephone office after it became vacant. In recent years, it was a beauty salon.
I remember our phone number in 1970 but I don’t know my number today because I never call myself. I got my first cellular phone in July 2002, which was about three years later than everyone else. No one knew my new number so I didn’t get any calls until August. I also abandoned my “land line” in 2002.
Today, telephones are computers or alarm clocks or video games. I understand they also have the capacity to send text messages.