Ronan, Mont., had a population of about 1,500 people during the 1970’s and we all had wall rotary phones. Sometimes if we were lucky, we would have more than one wall phone in the house. Ours was located in the kitchen and had a super long cord that could reach into the living room should you need to be comfortable while having a conversation.
We had one operator, Mrs. Lu Olson. Her job was located in her home, of course this was before we called it working remotely. Whenever we wanted to know the answer to a question, we dialed 0. We didn’t punch the number zero, we had to stick our finger into the rotating disc and pull the zero all the way around. It didn’t matter if it was day or night, breakfast time, lunch time, or supper time. If we wanted the weather, we dialed 0. If we wanted someone’s phone number, we dialed 0. If we needed an address, we dialed 0. If you needed to know what time the parade started, dial 0. If you couldn’t get the state basketball game on the radio and you wanted to know how a team was doing, dial 0.
Dial 0, let it ring, on came the voice of an angel. This wonderful widow with seven terrific children had the patience of a saint. In the middle of her own family’s meals, someone would dial 0 and she would go take care of the call. No matter what, the operator was always there.
Mrs. Lu Olson is now in her 90’s and I recently met up with her when I was back in Montana. This woman still has the voice of an angel and was so surprised that I would recognize her. I walked over to her and introduced myself to her again after all these years. I said, “Mrs. Olson, I was just talking about you to the first grade students in our school library.”
She said, “What could be so interesting about me?”
I told her that when kids want to know things now a day, they go to Google, but we were luckier when we were growing up because we had one place with all the answers too and that was dialing 0 and having Mrs. Olson ask how she could help us. She smiled very big and said “now how do you suppose I had all those answers?” I told her I’d like that to remain a mystery and that we always knew she would know the answer or what to do in any situation.
It is March and we are headed into Spring. It is a great time to come up to the library and check out a book about gardening. We are open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 3:30-5:30 p.m. following the school calendar. We hope to help you choose just the right book.