Today we focus on the telephone operators. Mary Frances Hankins, a former Tybee Island telephone operator, kindly donated the items in our museum that are pictured The telephone was invented in 1876, and it was found soon after that the use of a central exchange would be advantageous. This led to small towns typically had the switchboard installed in the operator's home so that she could answer calls on a 24-hour basis. We say "she" because companies observed that women were generally more courteous to callers, and were cheaper labor, so they were hired on regularly until the early 1970s when men were added into the mix. Switchboards evolved through time in more urban areas, but basically stayed the same in rural areas. Telephone exchanges eventually converted to automatic (dial) service, but operators were still needed for long-distance calls, collect calls, a call billed to a third number, a person-to-person call, and any toll calls from coin phones. Today the services still provided by operators have been consolidated into regional centers which might be hundreds of miles from the subscriber.
In April 1882, the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company was granted use of the Martello Tower to construct an office and quarter for employees. From high atop the tower incoming ships could be signaled and merchants in Savannah could be notified by telegraph that a ship would soon enter port. Mrs. Alice Evans worked for the Telegraph Company as telephone and telegraph operator. The Martello Tower was destined to be destroyed by the Army because it was blocking their view of the Savannah River, so a new telephone building was built on Tybee. Today the building is a private residence.
#tybeelighthouse #visittybee #tybeemuseum #telephoneoperators #telephone #americantelephoneandtelegraph #martellotower #georgiahistory #history #phone - 16 days ago