The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

In The Days Before Telephones

By Grace Cash © 1986

Issue: November, 1986

Editor's Note... The following is one of a series of articles written by Grace Cash. She lives in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Watch for more of her stories in future issues.

In 1928 we lived in that part of Northeast Georgia called the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The farm people had no telephones, but they went to a lawyer's house in the village to make emergency calls. He lived in a big white house on a large farm lively with tenant houses, where both white and Negro families lived. He commuted to the county seat in his car, which very few people had at that time, but his telephone was attached to the wall in the hallway, the receiver resting in a receptacle by the phone when not in use.

When there was a sickness or death, the people went there and had a family member make a telephone call for them. The emergency calls were confined to a matter of life or death. Such was the case when my eldest brother reined our big red work horse, and fled to the lawyer's house. In the meantime, my parents were beside themselves, trying to keep life in the baby, the youngest child, till the doctor got there.

There was first born into our family a daughter, then two sons, followed by other girls. Then come Aaron, only eight months old, but already a family pet, when he became violently ill, gasping for breath and his face twitching with pain. It appeared that he was going to be snatched from my parents, from all of us. His left eye was drawn back, and it looked glassy, so that my parents thought he was dying.

Then in a matter of minutes my brother returned from the lawyer's house. Frank was fourteen and bean-pole skinny, and a daring youth. He raced the horse into the yard, the bits tightening in the braces. The horse's mouth foamed like soap suds as Frank yelled, "The doctor's coming!"

No wild western actor ever impressed me as did this brother, a Paul Revere, an Indian fighter, nay, a Death-fighter! The baby lived. The doctor got there, so he declared, in time to save Aaron, but even a short delay might have been fatal to the child.

It is a long journey from 1928 to rapid transportation, to a mechanical age, where there are telephones in practically every household. But even before this modern age came into being, the Lord blessed the earth with daring men and women, and children.