ONE RINGY-DINGY (Guest Post from Deeanne Gist)

Happy Sunday! Katy Lee here with a message from Bestselling Inspirational Author, Deeanne Gist. Deeanne has a new book out just in time for the holidays that would make a great Christmas present. (Just saying.) But first, let’s put Deeanne on the line and hear what she has to say…

We have an old rotary pay phone hanging on a wall in our gameroom. I’d always get tickled when teenagers came over and asked how to use it. Yet I found myself in that exact same position while researching my new release, Love on the Line. It’s about a turn-of-the-century switchboard operator and a Texas Ranger who goes undercover as a telephone repairman.

The only exposure I’d had to switchboards was from the old Laugh-In episodes with Lilly Tomlin (dating myself here). Suffice it to say, I had a lot to learn. Not just about switchboards, but about how telephones worked back in the day. Since my book is set in a rural Texastown, there were party lines. I wasn’t sure how those worked either.


Then, of course, my hero was an undercover telephone repairman. So, I also had to learn how to repair the phones, string the lines, climb a telephone pole, etc. It was quite the education. Did you know they didn’t use safety straps back then? The men simply climbed the pole, then wrapped one leg around it to hold them steady while they did their work. Crazy!

And the telephone operator did much more than connect two parties together. She served as News Central and answered a huge range of questions. What’s playing at the opera house? Who came in on the afternoon train? Where’s the doc? Are the streets outside of town dry or muddy? I lost my cow, will you find out if anyone has seen her?

Talk about having to know everybody’s business! And the party lines were a hoot. Several people would share the same line. Each family had a specific ring. For example, the Smiths might have three short rings. But the Jones had two shorts and one long. Even still, everyone on your line heard the ring and if they wished to pick up and listen in, they certainly could.

Bottom line, and The Unlocked Secret: I no longer rib the kids when they don’t know how to use our rotary. I simply show them how it works and feel rewarded that I’m passing along a little slice of history to this generation of techno-wizards.

Deeanne, it is a treat to have you “ring us up” today and give us a glimpse into your research for Love on the Line. Thank you for joining us Scribes!

And now, here is a little bit about Love on the Line:

It’s a Battle of Wills…And Love Is on the Line!

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man’s world…which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He’s a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

Readers who want to connect with Deeanne Gist can find her at or can join her Circle of Friends on Facebook at!/deesfriends and you can buy her latest here.

Question: Would you be willing to climb a pole for research?



12 thoughts on “ONE RINGY-DINGY (Guest Post from Deeanne Gist)”

  1. Welcome Deeanne, What a fantastic story idea!

    My dad had a rotary phone until the day he died. The twirly old cord was stretched to twenty feet after years of five girls in the house hiding in the cellar or half way up the stairs to the second floor searching for a smidgeon of privacy. My kids used to have fun making a call on grampas “antique” phone when we went to visit. Boy does stuff like that make you feel old!

  2. Love your books, Dee, and love you! Dee and I have our own phone stories; I routinely hit her name on my phone when trying to reach my other BFF, another Dee. We have a lot of unplanned and wonderful conversations that way!

  3. Thank you Deeanne for an unexpected stroll down memory lane. How well I know the feeling. It is neat to describe mimeograph machines and fax machines with rotating drums to this generation of church office workers. The wide-eyed “Wow” look they give me is priceless. But then I was just as wide-eyed once as I listened to my grandfather talk about going to see a motion picture that talked. Good luck with the novel.

  4. I have an Aunt Dee Dee with a rotary phone. The first time I was introduced to it was when I was six and she told me to call my mother and tell her we got back from Six Flags alive. I looked at it, poked my fingers through the little holes and tried to dial. When nothing happened I told her that her phone was dumb and that she needed a new one.
    Oh, and I love the cover of you book.

  5. My In-laws still have a rotary phone. They were so insistant about not going to touch tone because they would be charged an extra couple of dollars a month for service. So they still have a rotary dial phone. They have a new cordless phone as well, but it is still the rotary dial service. So when you press the numbers, you can hears there clicking as the numbers “turn”. It’s quite a novelty for the kids, but makes getting in touch with any company requiring a touch tone service. “Press 1 for english, press 0 to talk to an operator” They are just hanging out in the breeze.
    Great post!

  6. I know what you mean about dating yourself with the rotary phone. I was in law enforcement a lifetime ago. My stories consist of hand-written radio logs and teletype machines (the ones where you type out the message on a strip of tape and feed it back into the machine to send it). Man, I’m a dinosaur!!!
    Great story idea. Thanks for the post.

  7. I remember when I was a very young girl, my uncle and aunt up in Maine (30 miles east of nowhere) had a party line. They also had one of those phones with the mouth piece attached to a solid wooden phone which hung on the wall and the receiver, or ear piece, was held to the ear, much like the one depicted on your book cover. I was very young and the memory is foggy, but it’s there. Thank God for technology. We sure have come a long way baby! And just for the record, I remember Lily’s one ringy dingy (snort, snort) … very funny. To answer your question, yes, I would climb a telephone pole (I’m a former skydiver, so the telephone pole is really not that much of a challenge).

  8. So wonderful to see my friends here and to meet new ones as well. I’m loving ya’ll’s stories about rotary phones, wooden phones, ticker tapes and mimeograph machines. I used to be a teacher and we ran all our worksheets off the mimeograph machines. The minute I passed out papers, the students would hold the paper to their noses and inhale the wonderful smell of mimeographed papers. What the kids didn’t know is that we teachers did the same thing the minute it came off the press. LOL.

  9. Oh, the mimeograph machine! Wow, you just brought me back to my awkward years in Catholic grade school. I can actually picture the nun handing those papers out up and down the aisles. 🙂

    We’re delighted to have you, Dee! And thank you to all who shared their stories. I’m loving them! Keep ’em coming!

  10. Hi Deeanne, oh this sounds like such a good book. I remember party lines, my grandparents lived in a rural area and I guess it was cheaper to have the party line. The phone would ring twice for my grandparents and once for my Aunt who lived down the road. And Grandma couldn’t make a call until dear Auntie got done yakking on the phone. It was interesting.
    Thanks Katy for hosting Deeanne and thanks Deeanne for sharing about your new book.

  11. I still have two corded phones in my house — and may I say that during the recent power outage, those phones still worked, while none of my cordless phones did. Fugly, yes. Fun to show to kids and watch them try to figure out how to make them work, yes. My grandparents had a party line at their farm in the boondocks up until the early 1980s, and I admit to listening in on the wrong ring on a couple of occasions when Grandma wasn’t around. Hey, I was a kid. A nosy kid. This looks like a great book, Deanne! I love the cover too. Thanks for stopping by the Scribes.

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