Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

1917 ALBION TELEPHONE BOOK

Morning Star, October 9, 2016, pg. 9

Albion is fortunate that we still have our own telephone book, now titled "YP." The latest edition issued this past August has seven and one-third pages of listings for Albion in 8 font type. Most of those are for phones (both personal and businesses) that still have the 629 or 630 Albion prefixes through AT & T. Those that receive their service via other companies (mostly cell phones) aren’t in this book unless special arrangements were made. As most people have switched over to cell phones and ditched their land-lines, these are all that are left. It was just a decade ago that Albion had over 23 pages of listings. I wonder how long this will continue and if not, who would we be "merged" with?

The telephone has been an important means of communication in Albion since the first phone was installed in April, 1884. A hundred years ago there was an Albion telephone directory with 16 pages of listings. The 1917 Bell Telephone Company Directory of Albion-Marshall contains fascinating historical local information about our community back then. In total it is 48 pages long and measures 6" x 9."

The first several pages contain advertisements of Detroit merchants. Local Albion or Marshall advertisements are found on the inside and back cover, with just a few at the top of the listing pages. Back then there wasn’t direct dialing. Instead, you had to call the operator and supply them with the number and possibly a letter or two, from the directory. Here are some examples: Frank Darrow, 612 E. Erie St, 441-R. Bert Drury grocery, 803 S. Eaton St, 183-J1. Eastman & Son Livery, 220 E. Michigan Ave, 24. Star Bakery, 710 N. Albion St, 449-J2. William Vogt farm, north of city, 723-F6.

Here are some general instruction "rules" found in this directory:

"FIRE. Ask the operator for Fire Department. It is not necessary to look up the number. You will be connected at once with a special reserve wire. Tell your story briefly, calmly and distinctly, giving the street and nearest cross street. DO NOT GET EXCITED."

"POLICE: Ask operator for Police Department…Speak slowly and in a moderate tone of voice, to avoid the necessity of repetition. KEEP COOL."

Some "Party Line" rules: "Do not allow the servants, children or others to listen on the line when it is in use, or to play with the telephone at any time. Subscribers are requested not to hold the line longer than five minutes. Farm subscribers will please ring off when conversation is finished." "Please remember that other parties on the same line have equal rights with you."

Here are a couple of other rules: "In case the called party has no telephone, a messenger will be sent upon request, and the charge for this messenger will be made whether the called party can be located or not." "Your contract prohibits the use of your instrument by others."

From our Historical Notebook this week we present the cover of the Albion-Marshall February 1917 Telephone Directory of the Michigan State Telephone Company and the American Telephone & Telegraph Company. How many of our readers have saved their old Albion telephone books? Do you remember the NAtional-9 prefix?


Albion-Marshall February 1917 Telephone Directory

Next: ALBION FIRE DEPARTMENT ONCE LOCATED ON W. CASS ST.

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