Number Please?

The word telephone is derived from the Greek words “tele” meaning “far off” and “phonos” meaning “sound.”

Alexander Graham Bell lacked the funds to develop his invention of the telephone. So, he tried to sell all rights to his telephone patent to the Western Union Telegraph Company for $100,000 in 1876. They turned him down saying it was an electrical toy with far too many shortcomings to ever be considered a practical means of communication.

The year 1879 saw the first use of telephone numbers at Lowell, Massachusetts. During an epidemic of measles, Dr. Moses Greeley Parker feared that Lowell’s four telephone operators might succumb to the disease and cripple the towns’ communications. He recommended the use of numbers rather than individual names for calling the more than 200 subscribers. In the event of such an emergency, operators could be easily trained. The idea soon caught on nationwide. Dr. Parker was so convinced of the telephone’s potential that he began buying stock. By 1883, he was one of the largest individual stockholders in both the American Telephone Company and the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Thomas Edison coined the word “hello” derived from “holler” in 1889. Prior to that time the most common word used when answering the telephone was “yes.”

When I began my ten year career in 1956 at the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company at Logan, WV, we answer the customer by saying “Number Please.” When we went dial a few years later we answered by saying “Operator.” Now the friendly voice of a telephone operator has been replaced by recordings.


1965 Christmas dinner held in the basement of the telephone office

Standing: (1) Terri Clark (2) Goldie Nagey (3) Carolyn Counts (4) Dorothy Wilson-chief operator (5) Delta Dalton (6) Linda Fernandez (7) – (8) Annette Castelli (9) – (10) – (11) Dolores Riggs-Davis (12) – (13) Sadie Whited (14) Hattie Mae Perry-assistant chief operator

Sitting: (1) Shelva Gaylock (2) Pat Lucus (3) Martha Stepp (4) – (5) Phyllis Sadler (6) Anna Jean Browning (7) – (8) Brenda Richardson

Award Presentation

Back row: (1) Fay White (2) Midge Cox (3) Dot Wilson – Chief Operator (4) Hattie May Perry – Assistant Chief Operator  (5) Sis White (6) Ada Bell Dingess

Sitting: (1) Madalyn “Pudutt” Weaver (2) Shelva Gaylock (3) Rosemary Watkins (4) Emma Weaver-MacArthur (5) Betty Ellis (6) Faye–) (7) Sadie Whited (8) Dolores Riggs (9) Ruth Dingess (10) Goldie Nagy

Men in back row out of town presenters

Another Award

(1) – (2) Dolores Riggs (3) Betty Ellis (4) Rosemary Watkins (5) Roberta Cunningham (6) Carolyn “Pinky” Counts (7) Hattie Perry (8) Dorothy Wilson (9) – (10) Phyllis Sadler (11) –


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7 Responses to Number Please?

  1. david estep says:

    my dad and all his syblings where raised on hainer branch on big creek in logan county wva their last name was ESTEP

  2. Terri Clark McPherson says:

    In the Christmas party photo: standing # 12 is Brenda Clark and sitting # 7 is Bennie Gertz Walls.

  3. Darrell Farley says:

    I think number 9 is Lenora Gibson.

  4. Daniel Belasco (Sandy) says:

    My mother worked at the phone company in Logan from approximately 1924-1958. Her name was Dorothy “Dot” Ellen Belasco, and remarried in 1958 to James Pugh. Jim was the manager of all 3 drug stores in Logan at that time. We moved to Baltimore in 1960.

    I was born in 1948 and went to Logan Cental School.
    I remember picking up the phone and saying “Mom” as she try to get on the same switchboard as our apartment. Phone number 1588!!
    When i read on this site that Dolores

    We lived at 605 Cole Street and later at 121 Morgan Street.

    When I read on this site that Dolores Riggs Davis was a telephone operator from 1956–Perhaps she remember my mother and/or a kid named “Sandy”.

    • Mary Moore says:

      I believe I went to Logan Central Grade School with you a couple of years. I also was born in 1948. My maiden name was Mary Kirk. I grew up on City View. I remember you moved but I lost track of you. I remembered your name because it was unusual for our locale.

      • Daniel Belasco says:

        Hi Mary,
        Your name rings a bell also.
        I have 2 photos of the grade school class 57-58 and 58-59. Send me your email if you want a copy of the photos. George Beckett was a friend of mine from the same class. I talked to him about 3 years ago. He lives in Charleston. The only other person I got in touch with was Gresha Collins. I talked to her last year. She is 2 years younger than us.

        Dan Belasco
        Aka Sandy

  5. M. Bell says:

    I believe the lady with blonde hair (standing on the right) is Ada Bell Dingess, my father’s aunt. Thank you for the picture.

    see image 3: