A Small Town Telephone Book isn’t Much of a High Chair Booster

This is mostly an exercise in seeing if I can make a story out of something another said couldn’t be done. A friend recounted how an urban relative remarked about how small the Greenfield telephone directory was back in the 1950s. I don’t recall the exact words of the big-city visitor but they could have been taken as belittling. Urban people often think we in rural America are somehow lacking.

I recall attending a party in Poughkeepsie, NY in the early 60s. There were several people present who lived in New York City and had never been exposed to a young sailor with a Southern Ohio accent. One woman ask where I was from and when I said Southern Ohio she wanted to know if we had television. That experience may account for my long-time dislike of many things New York.

When I was aboard ship in the US Navy my provided me with a subscription to the local daily newspaper, The Greenfield Daily Times. The paper was commonly 4-6 pages and came rolled up in a white paper sleeve with my address printed on it. Several of my shipmates had never seen a paper that small and would make fun of it for its size and content.

One of the guys in my department was from a small town on Long Island where the principal industry was commercial fishing. He too received his local newspaper and we enjoyed swapping them. He enjoyed reading about Ohio’s crop and animal farming and I enjoyed reading about Captain Bart Bradley relocating his trawler from East Harbor to Wampauk Inlet. Farming is farming and small town is small town.

Getting back to small town phone books the down side is they’re not much help when you’re looking for something to use as a high chair booster. A quarter-inch thick phone book doesn’t give much lift. The up side of a small town phone book is the security that comes with personally knowing about everyone whose name it contains.

My grandmother once came to Cincinnati by train from her home in rural South Carolina. She had a layover before catching the train to Greenfield and took a cab to Fountain Square. She knew my father worked in Cincinnati and spent her time walking around the square asking people if they knew her son. She had a difficult time accepting the concept that everyone in the big city didn’t know everyone else.

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