Life without cellphones may be unfathomable anymore but life was different with its predecessor, the landline telephone, as its stationary mechanism created a different way to interact and communicate.
The Delaware County Historical Society has different versions of early telephones among its collection. And, indicative of the time, a time prior to the Internet, there was a way to find out how to get in touch with other people – telephone books and directories.
Telephone books listed names alphabetically, addresses and telephone numbers. Having been issued prior to the prevalence of telephones, directories predated telephone books, listing people’s names, addresses and occupation.
For example, the historical society has a Chester City Directory from 1889-90, covering Chester, Upland and Eddystone.
Although it had no telephone numbers, it contained a plethora of information including banking institutions, bands, city and government offices, political societies and telegraph companies.
It also listed individuals, their professions and addresses.
Some of them included Henry C. Hardouin, a junk dealer who had two addresses, one at 229 Edgmont and 715 E. Eighth St. Ida Hinkson was a saleslady at 1117 Madison and Patrick Duffy was a laborer who lived at 1502 Providence.
Telephone books are also among the collection and one was a 28-page tome from the American Union Telephone Company in January 1910, covering the areas of Chester, Marcus Hook and Media.
In it, the Marcus Hook fire house’s telephone number was 29L. That’s it, three characters. Lawn Croft Cemetery was simply 17, Chester High School, at Ninth and Parker streets, was 327.
Later, telephone books were more voluminous, such as the July 1963 edition of the White Pages for Delaware County – Main Line as published by Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania.
Comprised of 648 pages, those utilizing the book would find that someone could call the Sun Oil refinery at West Second Street in Marcus Hook by dialing HU5-1121 or Evans Chevrolet Co. at Township Line and Burmont roads in Drexel Hill by calling SU9-7820.
These telephone books and directories and some examples of early telephones are in the collection at the Delaware County Historical Society Museum, Library & Research Center. The museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; 1 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The museum’s telephone number is 610-872-0502. Parking is free on the society lot behind the building or across the street in the municipal lot.
Membership in the Delaware County Historical Society ranges from $10 for students, $27 for individuals to $250 at the patron level. It includes free admission to the society’s Chester museum and library at 408 Avenue of the States, the society newsletter and preferred reservations and discounts for lectures and events. To join, please visit www.padelcohistory.org or call 610-359-0832.
Telephones, books and directories in the Delaware County Historical Society collection.