Then and Now
THEN: A former Pickerington resident, Roger Burnard who now lives in Washington state, recently provided the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society with this late 1930s photo.
His accompanying note explained, "This is my mother, Inez Boyles Burnard, sitting at her switchboard in the Ohio Bell Telephone Company office above Charlie Exline's store just south of Pickerington's train station. Mother was chief operator."
Burnard said he remembered spending many nights with her there when she had night duty.
"We slept on two old Army cots near the switchboard. When calls would come in, Mother would get up, go to the switchboard and say in her ever-pleasant voice, 'Number please.' "
During this time Pickerington-Violet Township residents had telephone service via party lines which generally grouped 2-4 households on the same circuit.
Incoming calls were signaled by distinctive rings. Eavesdropping on neighbors' calls was commonplace.
NOW: Inez Burnard was Pickerington's chief telephone operator from the mid-1930s until December, 1940, when the Pickerington office was closed because of the conversion to a dial system.
At the time, both the Ohio Bell office and Charlie Exline's grocery store were located in the former American Hotel on North Center Street. That building was razed in 1972.
Telephones and other equipment from the 1940s and later can be seen any Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society Museum, 15 E. Columbus St. in Olde Pickerington Village.
In addition, a selection of Pickerington logo merchandise is available in the Museum Gift Shop.
Historical Society Open Houses, Gift Shop merchandise, and monthly meeting details can be found at www.pickeringtonhistoricalsociety.com or by phoning 614-382-5989.
Contributions and questions about "Then and Now" stories can be sent via email to the series' creator, Maggie Arendt, at email@example.com.
Vintage phones such as these are on display in the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society Museum, 15 E. Columbus St. in Olde Pickerington Village.