Now that we live in a time when it appears that most people feel the need to be engaged in telephone conversations at all moments of the day – while driving a car, while conducting a transaction, while going to the bathroom – it’s perhaps hard for some to imagine that there was a time when the telephone company had to sell people on the utility of telephone service. But so it was.
In 1914, The Telephone Review, the house organ of the New York Telephone Company, provided this article from the Waterford Advertiser, under the heading “The Value of the Telephone,” to drive home the advantage of voice communications by wire, particularly for places whose fire alarms appear to have been burned down.
“The value of the telephone and a live operator was shown on Tuesday evening, May 2, about 11:30 o’clock, in Waterford. The village was quiet, and a fire was discovered in the Waterford Woolen Mills, situated at the head of Ballston Street. Since the burning of the Town Hall, on which was located the fire alarm, the village has been handicapped. An alarm was sounded on the steamer house bell, which, however, can be heard only a short distance. Word was sent to Miss Adelaide Worth, the efficient chief operator in Waterford of the New York Telephone Company. The fire was burning briskly at the time and no apparatus had yet arrived. Miss Worth, realizing the situation, telephoned the Reverend Alfred H. Valiquette, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, asking him to ring the church bell, which he did immediately, and the firemen were soon on the scene and succeeded in saving adjoining property.
Thirty minutes later, while the firemen were at this fire, another fire was discovered in a residence across the street from the Ford Hose House, and as the firemen were all away from the fire headquarters, Miss Worth again appealed to the clergyman, who again sounded the alarm, and a quick response was made, with a damage to the building of only $100. The loss to the Woolen Mill amounted to $10,000. Much credit is due to the operator for her action.”