Home NEWS Local Scene The NEWS24/680 Digital Party Line

The NEWS24/680 Digital Party Line


24/680 People of a certain age may remember those clunky old wall-mounted phones of yore, mechanical wonders connecting farm with farm, farm to town, town to city.

They’re gone now, of course, with people keeping a few examples around as rustic reminders of what our lives used to be like – and of how we were likely to be speaking with everyone in our small, rural hamlets whenever we picked up the handset and the “Party Line,” was engaged.

With everyone on the line at once, Mrs. McGillicutty could find out that Mr. Jensen’s horse had stepped on him and broken his foot, that a new doctor was coming to town, that the local dry goods store had a fresh stock of hard candy and silk bolts on hand.

Yesterday, Thursday, as we were writing about an odd incident in San Ramon and telling folks of police activity in that area, we realized that the Party Line was still with us, alive and kicking.

Our reports aside, staffers noted that neighbors were carrying on side conversations about the story and its nuances, with others reconnecting for what seemed – to us – for the first time in a long time.

“This is kind of cool,” a youngish 24/680 scribbler remarked as the conversation thread on our Facebook Page veered off into something else entirely – instant Neighborhood Communication.

It was fun for us, as it must have been for Mrs. McGillicutty to learn about Mr. Jensen’s skittish horse back in 1892, to see the neighbors sharing information, trading jokes, and promising to meet up in a “real world” environment as soon as they “hung up.”

Some things never change – and communication, we believe, is good. Thanks for joining us and remember, leave a nickel on the top of your computer for the NEWS24/680 phone man.


  1. My grammy used to tell us about how she used to pick up the line and just listen to all the local gossip. Early internet!

  2. There’s a payphone outside the CVS in downtown Orinda. One morning last year, my then 3 year old son and were out for a walk. I asked him; “hey buddy, what do you think this thing is?”

    His reply: “A gas pump.”

    I told him it was a telephone, but he wasn’t buying it.

  3. I have one of those. I just dragged it out of the garage cupboard and weighed it for the first time. 26 lbs. It is not wifi compatible. It is not from the farmhouse of my formative years, so no sentimental value. Eventually I plan to stain the wood and mount it. In another 20 years or so.

  4. I went with the Ipswich pine. What year is it? I feel like Rod Taylor in the Time Machine.
    Looks great. I now have wifi software for it as well.
    Fyi, Trump lost in 2016. What a loser. Some guy named Biff entered late and won it all after buying out Adelson and the Koch brothers. No one knows where he made all of his money.

  5. con·tem·po·ra·ne·ous
    Originating, existing, or happening during the same period of time
    Often used with great affectation in Fed briefings…

    Relevent to some news blogs…?

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