“Remember to Take Your Fork with YOU”

“Always Keep a “FORK” in your hand!”

The other day as I was looking at this PHOTO – – – just started to remember an old story – – can not remember who told this story – – but it is important to always have a “FORK” in hand!


Only… if you are as old as  ME… that’s me… Mary Ellen in the blue and white dress – – and with a “FORK” in hand.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s there were large families – – you know Mothers stayed at home and the men were at the work place or even in the  care of  good old “UNCLE SAM” – – men were called up for service – – since there was always something going on … and AMERICA sent her young men  to settle the differences and at a high price to be paid.

More than half of today’s population does not know about the “Ration Books” that were issued to each member of a FAMILY – – and with out the sugar coupon – – you could not buy a bag of sugar. There were coupons  for so many things – – that a family might need – – but  – without that special coupon  … we sure did get the message to learn to do without.

So… for the story – – as I remember – – This older lady  was about ready to leave this world and she was giving instructions to her family… “what ever you do… be sure that this “FORK” that I have in my hand… is in my hand – – when you take me…  to the FUNERAL Parlor – – and  – –  just before they  start to lower my casket into the ground at the CEMETERY – – be sure this “FORK” is still in my hand.”

The “FAMILY” had no idea  as to why they should honor this request – – so one person just blurted out – -“Why do you have to have a “FORK” in your hand when you die and are put into the grave?”‘

“You just  do not know or do not remember – – but when our Church would have their weekly evening meal for  all of us in the   Church “HALL” where…  they would serve all of us large families – – since so many of us did not get enough to eat – –  we were told  “Be sure to keep your “FORK” in your hand…  otherwise you will not be able to eat – – as we do not have extra “FORKS” to hand out for  everyone in your FAMILY!”  “In fact they told us – –  just keep your “FORK” with you at all times – – you never know where you will be … and  if you have your “FORK”  you can eat  – – when ever something is offered to you!”

So… as the story goes – – this lady said that…  she  always had a “FORK” wrapped in a  napkin – – and took it with  her  and in her purse – – and said ,  “I want to be ready to eat at all times – –  where and when  I go  – Have my “FORK” in HAND!” And…  just so fast… her arm went up into the air…   singing out…”FORK IN HAND!”

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“Did YOU ever Dial “O” for Operator”

“Day Time Telephone Operators”

If you took a look at the post for yesterday… you were looking at this very same area… where there were only three “OPERATORS” working.

This PHOTO is the “DAY TIME OPERATORS” covering the switchboard –  but this switchboard  is five  (5) times the length that you see here.

Assistant Chiefs 001

Would you believe that this photo is over sixty years old – – – as you can tell by the length of the skirts on the Chief Operator, Mrs. Quirk – – the lady with the white fringe around the bottom of her skirt and… I can not remember the name of the other lady standing – and can not remember any more… or   for sure, as to  her  exact tittle would have been – – could be  something  “assistant” – – as there were several that would plug in with the  an Operator… checking how well you were  handling the calls.

Th e  “assistant”  had the duty to listen in on your calls … to learn … if you were answering the customers with the correct information – – and also if you were over-lapping  and most importantly the way that you  held your pencil – – in the correct way … so as not to put the eye out of the OPERATOR that would be sitting  next to you.

Before I started working  for the “Telephone Co.”  – – no one had ask to take PHOTOS” of the girls working at the switchboard – –  but I just thought, that I would like to remember those “telephone operators” that…   I was working with and  just exactly … what the place looked like.

 So… I had to get  a special permission  – – and was to stand so many  feet away from the switchboard – – since we just finished WWII – – and   communications sites needed to be protected against any enemy  of America.

Today I have  seen several “MOVIES” that have photos of  similar   systems – – and they are  up close with lots of detail – – and also TODAY – – I’ll bet  that everything is so much different and so updated – – just an entirely  whole  and different ballpark!

When ever you get to talking with ex-operators that did work for the Telephone Co., –  ask them  – – “How many times did you quit  – – and then later returned to work for the Telephone Co.,”?” 

And  just another question to ask –  “WHAT states and cities did you work?”  

I  do believe…  that I am the only one that has worked five (5) different times – was working at the St. Louis Toll office when “President Kennedy” was shot – –  everyone that  was having Lunch and or in the Lounge areas…were called to return back to work, because  that switchboard  immediately lit up like a Christmas Tree.

Everything in America was turned up-side down… and for months following!

Also … I had  transferred to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida – – and  did work at an office in Illinois and several in St. Louis areas.

 One thing that helps is that you will be at the work place every hour that  you are scheduled and willing to work on all  Holidays and any and all over-time… when  ever you might be needed.

Back in the day… I would tell people… “Just dial “O” for “OPERATOR” …

You just may reach me…  as your “OPERATOR”  – – with  that extra special  smile … in her voice!”

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“Time Changes, Yesterday-Today-And even Tomorrow”

A good place to work…

The month of  “AUGUST” was a very good month for me – – when I was only seventeen and was looking for work.


This is what  the telephone “NIGHT SHIFT” looked like –  and for working that “NIGHT SHIFT” –  you would make a little extra money –  and to make some extra  money – well… that was good music to my ears.

They may not have  the same  switchboard as seen above –  because some years later –  when I came back to work for the telephone company –  they had  a desk type  –  where two operators would sit –  and the seating was lower to the ground.

So… instead of the  high chairs… as  you  can see one of the “operators” getting ready for the correct height… that she needs to be able to sit comfortably,  and take calls and write up tickets for  all of the charges, per call,  needed to be completed.

The reason that I applied for work at the “TELEPHONE Company”  – my Mother told me that a friend of hers’ was hired on a “temporary” basis –  and she stay there for thirty years.

It is good to know… that “temporary work”… can last, just as long as you do want to work!

My Mother’s friend had told her that  –  her job was working in  an  office and since she did not know  for sure…  if everything that she was doing was correct –  that she would take all of the paper trash…  that she put into  the  trash can –  with her  at the end of the day… by putting all in a bag – so that if they checked her trash –  they would not  know –  how much she did not know about  her  job.

When I applied for work… they give you several tests to see what your strong work tendencies are –  and for me  “numbers” seem to be the way for me –  which  would be as an “operator” –  since there was a lot of figuring… as to  the time and charge for calls –  at that time –  almost all calls had extra charges.

If you were in downtown  – Saint Louis and making a call to Arnold, MO –  that was a time and charge call –  the minutes and the phone number required you to make a ticket with the numbers, that the customer  called, with  the  time and charge –  in case you needed to call the “calling customer” back with the charges –  and or if that call was being made from a “COIN BOX PHONE”  –  you would need to call that customer back and have them, then  drop  in the correct   “coins”    in the box.

Not only did you need to be able to write words and numbers correctly on small tickets –  you also needed to be able to discern the sound of a Nickel  coin dropping into the  coin-box phone  –  from maybe that of  a quarter or dime.

And of course you needed to recognize how many quarters were going into the box –  as all boxes with coins were checked against the tickets that were made.  There were times when someone would put coins in too fast  –  hoping to confuse you – – then you would have to… refund those coins and have them dropped in slowly so that …the correct amount could be collected.

NOW… that I think about the  “coin-box telephones” – 

In the world today…  I do not believe… that I have seen  these,  “coin-box telephones”  any where at all,  as they were a very popular  and necessary way  to make   a phone call… back then and  when necessary… a very long time ago!

  Of course in the old “MOVIES” they always have them –  so…   for today…  everything is NOW  charged to that  good old  “CREDIT CARD” –  what a difference…  even within my LIFE time!

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“Do YOU Remember a Terrific Telephone Operator”

“Dial ‘O’ for your local OPERATOR!”

Everyone knows that when you dial  ‘O’  for OPERATOR… you will receive a  “voice with a smile” – – and just so you can put  that “voice” into a picture as to  maybe someone you know… just thought that I would post the photos I have … for three other young ladies and myself. 


The above PHOTO is of me  – – and was taken within the first year of my learning to be a “Telephone Operator” – –

And I do look fairly young – – as when I started to work – – was not eighteen years old, and did have to secure a worker’s permit and promise to not  quit  – –  when September rolled around to continue with the last  couple of months of High School.

The reason for taking this PHOTO – – was that I had found this material with little telephones all over – – and just thought that I had to buy enough material   – – just to make a blouse that I could wear to work.

Of course lots of my friends at work liked the idea and the blouse – – and when wearing this blouse to places other than work – –  I could go into details… about working for the “Telephone Company.”

Just in case … you caught the PHOTO in the frame above the mirror – – that is “me” as a baby.

 My Mother told me that,  “One day…  I was playing outside and my Father came home in a  big hurry…  just grabbed me and rushed off into  the car – –  saying he had to hurry.”  

Evidently there was a “BABY CONTEST” going on… and he wanted to have me –  entered in… by having my PHOTO taken.

When we return home,  later on – – my Mother told  my DAD  – “You could have at least let me clean  “Mary Ellen” up – – and put nice clothes on her!”  

So… was my MOTHER – – ever surprised – –  when the Photographers Store  called  – – that  my parents …  could pick up the  First Place “Blue Ribbon”  for me.

Movie Stars 001This PHOTO  – – above is of  three of the other young ladies that started working for the “Telephone Co.,” with me – – – there were two other girls – – but… they  were not around when I was taking photos.

If I was to find and check my  old note books … for the first four weeks of training  – – that we were in together – – I might  just find the names of these girls – – as we did get together … even to  go to a couple of places to dance in the evenings, and we did have each others’ phone numbers… just to keep in touch when we did pass the tests and started to work regular shifts.

One other memory … the young lady on the right of this PHOTO – – was not able to make dresses from patterns – – but – – as  I did like to sew and was able to make some of the clothes that she wanted… she  bought materials and  patterns for a variety of different  out-fits – – and I was happy to do the sewing – – I was able to make use of the lessons I had  taken  – -and had fun to doing something different.

These were the days – – that we did not have “TV” – – and were able to do lots of things – – that people do not have time to do today … with the “TV’ occupying… all of our time.

If you think you know any of us  “OPERATORS” – –  just take the time and leave a message in the comment space.

Many years have since passed on, for all of us… and just maybe …  “YOU” as a “READER”  you may just have a memory of an “OPERATOR”   from way back and when … of that extra special “OPERATOR”…

So let that “OPERATOR”  and the whole wide world  know, that you have good memories of “Telephone Operators” your friends will  all LOVE you… too!

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“Brady and Riley Family early 1900’s

This looks like a very young “Marie Brady” –  and   sitting with  little  “Bernie Riley”  –   the  one and  only son of  “Mr. and Mrs. Wm. B. Riley” .

Mrs. Riley is  “IRENE”  the older sister of “MARIE” –   and now  a very young “MARIE”  is that young and very special “AUNT” to the little “BERNIE” –  and from what I was told  – he was a very special and very much loved young child of  all those who knew him.

This   next  PHOTO of   “MARIE BRADY’  as she is sitting on the right  and the top step of this four-family  flat…  and  this is where the “BRADY FAMILY”  lives – – and then… next to Marie is her friend, “Martha  Huffman”  – – and  the “Huffman FAMILY” lived  in the downstairs flat … the door you see behind where Mr. Thomas F.  BRADY,  the  father,  to a very young Miss Marie  is sitting…

And  I am  just so Lucky to have these Photos and good memories of all… that I was told back then… when I ask questions, so glad  NOW… to be able to say…   as I  am still able to remember…

 Miss Martha’s  father bought this building –  where they are sitting –  and as  the parents of  Miss Martha…  and all the rest of  her  siblings left their home  here on Warne Avenue… Miss  Martha was the sole owner of this building in the 1950’s.

Miss Martha went to SCHOOL  to learn to be a “BEAUTICIAN” – – and was  so very good  –  having lots of regular customers.

She had  her “BUSINESS” in her HOME – her section of this flat – and for many years. 

She was very good at what she was doing –  as my MOTHER would  also… have her do her hair.

Sometime after … MARTHA did get  married and she and her husband moved to Illinois –  but…  she then converted the “FLAT” to apartments… and rented them out.

I know.

When my husband Lee –  needed an operation… we had his oldest son, TOM take charge of things – at our HOME and Restaurant Business  in Florida for us –  since my husband was going to be in the HOSPITAL  in Saint Louis for several months.

So in looking for a place to rent in NORTH Saint LOUIS –  near the HOSPITAL –  there was this  News Paper Ad,  with this address on “WARNE AVENUE” .

So…  when I mentioned it to my MOM –  she said she knew the owner… her old girl friend … from the 1920’s.

 So  therefore,    I was able to get one of her apartments…  in this building – to rent for $20.00 a week –  and this was now  the 1960’s!

As I am thinking… I do have some old PHOTOS of when we were there –  and so again … when I find those PHOTOS … I will have to write…  MORE!    D.V.

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“Inspiration from the Almighty for All People”

“Just remembering Aunt Irene’s Son, little Bernie”

“Bernard Riley”


Bernard Riley  – September 10th, 1913 –

The one and only son of William B. Riley and Irene Brady Riley.

If only…  he had lived… he would have been “President” of this Country!

Those were the words of my mother… Irene’s sister, Marie. 

“Little Bernard” …  was the most beautiful child and always so well behaved… 

but his life was planned…  too far in advance of reality… not really  having a  real chance to live… just one day at a time.

In the “Lord’s Prayer” … where it reads… 

“Thy will be done,  here on earth…”… 

My thoughts are that… we have to remember to ask our   Almighty Yahweh,  for  His direction… 

because…  HE just may have a plan for each of our “LIVES” and with out a consultation with HIM… 

“how do we know the correct plan and path we are to follow?”

This is where I believe,  that we should start using that special  verse…  that states;

 “Ask and you shall receive…  seek and we shall find… knock and it shall be opened to you!” 

Is there a better  “plan”   for “ME” to follow?

“In this here… Life?”

“Help me with the divine guidance that only you can give to those who will  but ask for..

and follow the WORD …

that our Almighty Yahshua the Messiah…

gave to HIS Apostles, to give to us .. to follow!

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