Post Office Lineman

Dad was a Post Office technician. Back before we were born. He applied for ___ which was more technical, but was given electrician. He did his apprenticeship ca.1938 and was soon put on telephones, given a truck and sent off to Ixopo where he was assigned a ‘line boy.’ Actually an adult to do lots of the hard work for you. His ‘line boy’s name in Ixopo was Charlie. . . or Freddie?

– here’s his truck, his dog and his shadow –
telephone linesman from pinterest
– testing, testing –

Himeville fell within his area and he got to know the lady in charge of the General Post Office there – Miss Viven Wise. Miss Viven D Wise, actually, which got the young techies snorting as “VD” was rude. She spoke of the Sani Pass up into Basutoland and how beautiful and rugged it was, so when out that way one day Dad decided to see if he could get there. He soon came across a stream he had to ford, so out jumped Charlie to pack stones in the stream so the truck could get across. Soon another stream and the same procedure. After the fourth stream he decided this is going to take too long and turned back.

He also tells of putting in new telephone lines. From one farm to the next the line would go as the crow flies, over hills and through valleys. They’d be allocated long gum poles treated with creosote and they’d take them as close as they could in the truck, but to some places they had to be carried on their shoulders. Heavy and the creosote burning their shoulders, they’d lug them over the veld, dig the holes and plant them. I’m guessing Charlie did at least his fair share of the heavy lifting?

telephone linesman handsets
– linesman handsets –

In 1973 I had another Dad, also a lineman. Rotarian Don Lehnertz worked for the electrical utility in Apache Oklahoma. Wish I’d noted which company. He and Jackie very kindly hosted me as an exchange student for three months of that year.

Interesting that the famous song Wichita Lineman was written about a lineman up a pole in Washita County Oklahoma just west of my town Apache in Caddo County: (wikipedia) Webb’s inspiration for the lyric came while driving through rural southwestern Oklahoma. At that time, many telephone companies were county-owned utilities, and their linemen were county employees. Heading westward on a straight road into the setting sun, Webb drove past a seemingly endless line of telephone poles, each looking exactly the same as the last. Then he noticed, in the distance, the silhouette of a solitary lineman atop a pole. He described it as “the picture of loneliness”.


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