The Middleburgh
Telephone Company

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Middleburgh Telephone Under E. Scott Rose 1936-1972

In 1935, the company's first president, Dr. Best, died after faithfully guiding the telephone company for 38 years. Baird L. Elsbree took over as president at the time and was quickly followed by another local entrepreneur, Lewis Coons, who served as president for almost a year.

E. Scott Rose was elected president of The Middleburgh Telephone Company in 1936. Over the next 36 years, the company continued to grow and experienced many changes, but the growth did not come easy nor did the technological expansion.

E. Scott Rose

E. Scott Rose, President 1936-1972

In 1939, the company acquired the small, rural Coons Telephone System, owned by Mr. Coons, in Huntersland. This was one of the last so-called "farmer's line" systems in the area.

World War II in Europe and the Pacific diverted essential materials such as telephone switching equipment and wire to the massive nationwide war effort, and Middleburgh Telephone had to "make do" with existing equipment as it willingly cooperated with that effort.

In 1948, two years out of military service with the US Army Air Corps, E. Scott Rose's son-in-law, Randall F. Becker, joined the company and worked both in the central offices and the outside plant. He learned the business from the "bottom up" literally, as was the experience with many family-run telephone companies, doing whatever was necessary to maintain telephone service to the community.

Breaking Ground
In 1952, The Middleburgh Telephone Company broke ground for its new headquarters at Cliff St. and Wells Ave. From left to right are: MTC Manager Randall F. Becker; James Snyder, building foreman; MTC President E. Scott Rose; and Thomas Bush, contractor.
Board of Directors
The directors of the Middleburgh Telephone Company in the new business office at the corner of Cliff St. and Wells Ave. in Middleburgh in 1952. From left to right are: Randall F. Becker, William F. Spencer, Dr. Duncan Best (seated), Rudolph S. Snyder, E. Scott Rose (seated) and Harry J. West.

Between the end of the war and 1959, Middleburgh Tel was able to continue to change with the times and adopt the latest advances in telephone technology. The company embarked on an improvement program to convert the old magneto service to dial operations. Franklinton area customers became one of the first areas in New York State to have dial service.

Randall F. Becker Trains on New Equipment

A 1952 training class in XY equipment for telephone company employees.
Randall F. Becker is in the front row, third from the left.

"I remember when I first came to work with the company, I didn't have any telecommunications experience, and dial service was just in its infancy," says Mr. Becker.

"The Franklinton office was our first dial installation, and I spent many nights up there keeping the equipment running, especially in cold weather. You see, there was an interrupter in the system, and when a customer lifted the handset to make a call or went 'off hook,' they would hear the dial tone. If the interrupter was so cold that it would not work, we had to manually start it by hand to keep it running so customers could complete their calls. I spent quite a bit of time up there just keeping that office running!"

Middleburgh Goes From Magneto to Dial
In 1958, the Middleburgh Exchange was cutover from magneto service to dial service. In the Central Office are, from left to right: MTC President E. Scott Rose; Ferris Hagadorn, then Mayor of Middleburgh; Marjorie Rose Becker, MTC Secretary; MTC Manager Randall F. Becker; and Gene Sullivan, Installation Foreman of Stromberg-Carlson, provider of the XY dial equipment.

Randall Becker Tours Factory
In 1958, Randall F. Becker (standing at left) tours the Stromberg-Carlson plant, which provided the XY equipment for MTC's conversion to dial service. With him are instructors of the XY Training School and Stromberg-Carlson officials.

In 1952, Middleburgh customers were then introduced to the revolutionary, modern dial tone instead of the constant intermediary of a local operator working with a magneto switchboard. The purchase and conversion of The Bramanville Telephone Exchange followed two years later in 1954.

The Switch From Magneto to Dial Service

The conversion from magneto to dial service was, indeed, a revolutionary change for telephone customers back in the 1950s. It was a major technological step forward for the company, but also instantly established some additional calling "freedom" for telephone users.

Randall Becker and ES Rose

MTC Manager Randall F. Becker and MTC President E. Scott Rose
stand in front of the new Dial Exchange in Schoharie in 1959.

Randall Becker explains what the changes meant to Middleburgh Telephone customers:

"In Middleburgh we had two magneto switchboards, located over the Valley Theater, to handle the calling needs of our customers. Each board had 160 lines, so we had a capacity of 320 available lines at that time.

"We had party lines with as many as 20 to 23 customers on a line. One customer might have one short ring and five long rings, for example, while another might have three long rings and one short ring. There were various combinations, and this was all controlled by the operator who had a ringing key in the magneto switchboard so that she could send out the ringing signals on the lines.

"By the same token, with a magneto telephone, when a customer rang it, there was a magnet in the telephone that would send out current that would lower the little drop in the switchboard so the operator would know a call was coming in on that line. She would plug in the answering cord, ask what number the customer wished, and then, using the ringing key, would plug it through the drop, calling the customer by sending out the rings.

"That's how telephone conversation was maintained in those days. Since the conversion to dial switching, the customer just picks up the phone, hears a dial tone and places the call."

After conversion to dial, party lines of 20 or more customers were reduced to 10-party lines, and, eventually, to four parties on a line. Gradually, over the ensuing years, individual service was offered to all Middleburgh Telephone customers.

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