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.

THE TELEPHONE COMPANY

Morning Star, October 27, 1996, pg. 7

Albion has reached the 10,000 mark! 10,000 telephone lines, that is. If you haven’t noticed recently, Ameritech has added another exchange to our local telephone repertoire, so let’s welcome the prefix “630” to our local calling exchange! (630 follows 629. Makes sense, doesn’t it?) Already I’ve seen numbers in the early “100s,” no doubt due to the proliferation of fax machines, computer lines, etc.

We still remain, unfortunately, one of the few Ameritech exchanges in southern lower Michigan that can’t call free to another community, however, unlike our neighbors such as Marshall and Parma, who can call Battle Creek and Jackson for free, respectively. It’s still “long distance” to call outside the Albion exchange, and Homer is still listed in the Jackson telephone book, not Albion’s. Let’s see if we can get some positive changes made for next year.

Remember that 629 really means NAtional-9? That prefix was used beginning on January 5, 1958 as Albionites had to adjust to the modernization of the telephone system. Later on during the 1960s another feature was added, and we were placed in the 517 area code. Do you remember up until just a few years ago when you could just dial “9” in order to make a local call? Those days are history, of course. It’s sure nice to have “touch-tone” and some of the features that accompany that.

Other communities also used to have “named” prefix numbers. If you wanted to call Battle Creek, you dialed WOodward-2; Jackson was STate-4, while Marshall was STory-1. Our capital city Lansing had two of them, IVanhoe-4, or TUrner-2.

Albion’s first telephone was a public phone, installed here in 1883 as part of a toll line which ran from Battle Creek through Marshall, to Albion. Our local exchange arrived the following year in April, 1884. It was managed by Henry W. Mosher, and the office was located at 204 S. Superior St. The local exchange consisted of a 10-line board with a split plug.

From January 1, 1900 until the new Michigan Bell Telephone building was erected in the late 1940s, Albion’s telephone exchange was located above 110 S. Superior St. Operators would receive distress calls for police, and had a red light they would flash on and off for the officers downtown to see, indicating trouble. A new telephone building was erected on S. Clinton St., and Albion went to dial telephone service on May 5, 1949.

Before that however, operators handled the calls. From our Historical Notebook this week we present an unusual photograph courtesy of Marlene Robilliard, featuring the Albion operators at work in the 1920s. Right to left are: Helen Kimbler, Jennie Robilliard, Grace Moore, Alma Cushing, Margaret Finnigan, unknown, Grace Pierce. At desk: Marion Beer. Standing: Elsie Finnigan, and Walter Peabody.

[For this internet version we another photograph. It is the “Albion Jolly Operators” dated January 17, 1921. Left to right: Marion Beer, Vivian Baker, Vida Stark-Kelley, Florence Lavey-DuPark, Mildred Edwards, Margaret Finnigan, Mildred Turner, Irene Power, Behula Weidner, Grace Quinn, Rhea Smith, Jennie Burkwalt.]


Albion Operators at Work in the 1920s, also the "Albion Jolly Operators"

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