Growing up, we had a wooden box telephone on the wall in the kitchen. It had a speaker that protruded outward in the front, resembling a small trumpet, and a receiver to hear hung on a hook on the side of the wooden box. Every home was connected by a party line. Each home had a different ring, such as two short rings or two long rings, etc. The ringer was a crank on the other side of the wooden box and you turned it once for each ring. There were no numbers, just different rings and everyone knew who was who.
You could also ring an operator if you needed to call outside your area. These phones were infamous for listening in to people’s conversations. All you had to do after you heard a certain person’s ring, was pick up the receiver to listen to their conversation. Our small farm community had one older woman who loved to spend time doing this. There was no privacy for anyone.
One day my sister’s friend was working on the woman’s farm and then came over to our farm to visit. We received a call and heard someone listening. My sister’s friend yelled into the phone,”Mrs B, you’re beans are burning!”. When he was working for her he noticed she was baking beans. She screamed, “oh no and hung up.” We all had a good laugh.