Editorial – Regional fundraiser a fantastic read

Jeff Burgar

Remember telephone party lines? Party lines are from the good old days. If you lived in a rural area, you shared your telephone line with people up and down the road where the telephone line went. In past days, it was too expensive to run separate wires, which all had to be separate right back to the central office in High Prairie, or some central location. So, just one wire, or “line” served a bunch of people.

Some interesting things about party lines. First, if you picked up your phone and heard people talking, the polite thing to do was hang up, wait a few minutes, then see if the talkers were gone and the line was free. In emergencies of course, one could just barge in and tell the talkers to butt out.

Second, snoopy neighbours thought it great fun to, very quietly, pick up the phone, and listen in. In this way, it was sort of picking up local news. If one was really snoopy, perhaps some juicy gossip.

We couldn’t help thinking about this, while checking for errors in a pre-press edition of the High Prairie Community Beautification Association’s upcoming 2018 calendar. The calendars [there are two flavours, sports and news] have tidbits for every day of the year.

There, it says on June 26, 1991, Kinuso is the last place in Alberta to have party lines. Who would think, just three years before the World Wide Web, Kinuso was getting rid of their own local version of Facebook! And was mostly happy about it – except for the snoops!

Such little tidbits pop up throughout the calendars: Jeff Chalifoux resigns from the council of the predecessor to Big Lakes County, Improvement District 17. These days, nobody, but nobody, resigns from a cushy job like that.

Some of the nicest, at one time new, buildings in the region are coming up to being 50 years old. The post office and Northern Lites Motor Inn among them. Wow!

There are many businesses that celebrated grand openings. And today they are gone. An example is the Northwestern Fishing Co-op which decided to build a processing plant in Faust, as of June 25, 1970 – the same year work crews showed up in High Prairie to start paving Highway 2 east of Enilda. Can you imagine driving on gravel all the way to Slave Lake, and Edmonton before that road was paved?

There is so much more. Actually, about 730 days [two calendars] and many of the days have more than one item. Sometimes three! Lots of reading!

A member of Beautification, Chris Clegg, who is also our SPN editor, did the whole job himself. It’s a fundraiser for the society. One will be able to buy the calendars at the South Peace News office in downtown High Prairie, and possibly at some other store locations.

Alternately, send a message through the contact form on the southpeacenews.com website, and the society will get in touch with you.

It’s a great fun item that will keep you talking, and thinking, even before 2018.

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