At noon on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 1951, eight Bradford women lost their jobs.
It was a scene replicated at locations throughout the valley in the 1950s, as local telephone operators were supplanted by an automated dialing system.
The loss of the human touch did not go unnoticed. Switchboard operators were hailed as “uncrowned heroes of patience, gentleness, and courtesy.”
Gone was the “human aspect of a mutual friend,” who often knew which store you wanted when you asked for “the grocery store.” Gone was the forerunner of 9-1-1, where quick thinking saved lives and much more in the face of a fire or other emergency. Gone was a valuable source of local information and perhaps, if the caller was lucky, a bit of local gossip.
Their jobs were forever lost to technology.