Thursday, June 16, 2016

A telephone life


Hello, I wanted to break the cycle of no posting to my blog, so I decided to write a few pages about the past years as a telephone man. I retired last year in June after more than forty years as a telephone man.  I started with Golden west Telephone shortly after high school in 1973. My first job as summer hire, was spraying weeds around telephone pedestals throughout the Palo Verde Valley. I eventually worked myself out of a job. The powers to be decided to keep me around for the rest of the summer. I guess they figured it would be hard to find anyone else dumb enough to drive around in 115 degree heat with no air conditioner spraying weeds.

The summer ended and so did the need for a summer hire. There was a gap of 6 months where I worked for a farmer doing odds and ends. To my credit six months was all it took to discover I did not want to be a farmer, and it took the phone company the same period of time to discover that they were right, there was no one else around that was dumb enough to take on jobs like weed spraying in the intense heat of the Mojave desert, so they invited me back and I was hired in September of 1973.

During my 6 month sabbatical, the name of the phone company changed from Golden West to Continental Telephone. The truck went from a light brown color to bright white with an orange and Green stripe around the middle of the vehicle. I worked in Blythe California for 17 years doing everything from installing telephones to vacuuming dust on cable racks above sensitive equipment, which by the way can be knocked out of service by dropping a vacuum hose . Who knew?

Above is a sign that was posted everywhere the Cable was buried. It gives you an idea of the color scheme. Our uniforms were dark green pants, and light green shirts with the orange and green patch that said Continental Telephone Systems. In the very beginning there was grumbling among those of us who had to wear the pants. The grumbling soon turned into an organized effort to get the company to change uniforms. There were two main reasons we did not like the pants. The first reason was they were very hot during summer months. It is a fact that during the summer the heat in the Mojave Desert can and does reach far above the 110 degree mark for many days consecutively. The second reason is that by the end of the day the crotch or inseam of the pants hung down to the knees.

Our first effort to get different pants was rather creative and got a chuckle from upper management.  We all went out and bought orange suspenders and bright ugly ties. This picture, taken in 1982, is after we got rid of the suspenders for safety reasons. Here is the group of us wearing our uniforms and ties. The effort united us as a group but did little to change our situation. Most of us gradually just began to wear Levis instead of the pants. Over time the pants were abandoned due to the second name change. Instead of Continental Telephone, we became Contel. Our uniforms changed to gray pants and white shirts with grey pinstripes. They were nice uniforms, no one complained.

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