Need a hundred-pound block of ice delivered to your back door?
If so, and if you lived in Claremore in May of 1953, all you needed to do was pick up your telephone and dial “88.” That was the number for the Lightner Ice & Cold Storage located at 200 North Cherokee.
This and all other types of local information were available thanks to the publication and free distribution of the Claremore, Oklahoma Telephone Directory.
Southwestern Bell Telephone’s new offering featured 19 white pages of numbers for individuals and businesses. Thanks to the addition of many display advertising, the same book had 35 “Yellow Pages” listing everything from Abstracters to X-Ray Laboratories.
A telephone user could dial the number he or she was seeking or ask the operator for assistance. All long distance calls were placed through the operator.
Samuel Aaron was listed first among the individual numbers and could be connected at “522-J.” J.W. Zodrow, Jr. at “1571” concluded them.
The Jack Jones Ford dealership at 210 North Wichita held the honor of having the number “1.”
With the exception of this number, maybe the easiest one to remember was “1234” for the Rogers County Coal Company.
Today thanks to all the modern improvements Claremore phone numbers contain 10 digits. This wasn’t the case when the 1953 book was issued. Then they ranged between one and four digits mainly, but some party lines also included the letter “J” or “W” plus an extra number.
Party lines were when two or more customers shared the same line. Only one could use it at one time. Another drawback was the fact one could listen in on the other’s calls. This might be beneficial for gossip, but not much else.
Individual business lines cost $6.50 per month. One extension telephone was an extra $1.25. The residence phones had a choice. An individual or private line ran $3.50 monthly. For a two-party, it was $3 and a four-party was $2.50. An extra phone for each was $1.
On the inside cover of the phone book, customers could find a handy chart of prices for lone distance calls. From Claremore to Catoosa, a call cost 15 cents, to Chelsea 20 cents, to Tulsa 25 cents, all for a three-minute period.
A call to New York City or Los Angeles would each cost $1.90. The only overseas rate posted was to London, England. To talk to the Queen from Claremore it would run $12.
These prices were for a three-minute call.
To add value to their customers’ phone service, Ma Bell listed four handy hints. They were, answer your phone promptly or maybe miss an important call; immediately identify yourself by name or number to eliminate needless questions; wait 10 rings when making a call; and speak distinctly into the phone with lips about a half inch from mouthpiece.
The instructions also urged customers to use their natural pleasant voice and don’t whisper or shout.
In the white pages, the most numbers came under the letters C, D, and R. Z had the least with three while I and Q were next with seven each.
The “Yellow Pages” grouped business categories together.
Beauty shops were most plentiful. Ladies could choose among shops named Brown, Cottage, Elrod’s Francille, Mason, Phifer Hope, Rexall, Rowland’s, Ruby’s, or Will Rogers.
Shoppers looking for a new automobile could pick from dealers for Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Hudson, Mercury, Ford, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac.
To save money, the same shoppers might instead call a taxicab at Archie’s (444) or Bell Cab (835).
Owners of taxicabs and all other cars had no problem finding a full-service gas station listed. Numbers and locations could be found for the likes of Barger’s Sinclair, Barry Service, Chambers D-X, Jacobia Cities Service, Hixson Service, Hobaugh, Kenney’s Sinclair, Lingenfelter D-X, Moore Conoco, Morgan Conoco, Murphy’s, Padgett, Powers, Sawyer, and Scotton’s.
The Claremore Progress newspaper’s number was “1101.” It has kept the same numbers through the years with a prefix being added.
Claremore eating spots were also easy to locate. Diners could pick from Boyd’s Café, Cadet Grill, Copp’s, Kelly Drive-In, Kleck’s Grill, Lawson’s Restaurant, Linger-Longer, Majestic Café, Mason Hotel Coffee Shop, Nell’s Place, Nick’s, Paul & Irene’s Lunch, Polka Dot, Polly & Gayle’s, Robertson Drive-In, Silver Top Drive-In, Southern, Streeter’s Café, and the Will Rogers Hotel Coffee Shop.
The police department could be reached by dialing “455” and the mayor’s office was listed at “39.”
In case of fire, a caller was instructed to pick up the phone, ask for the operator, and ask for “Fire Department.”
Technology has certainly improved many aspects during the past 63 years since the above mentioned phone book came out. That said, it is still nice to take a trip back over its pages.