Harper, Iowa Centennial
                  1879-1979
                         NOT TOO BIG. . . BUT NOT TOO LITTLE

HARPER TELEPHONE SERVICE

The Harper Mutual Telephone Association, formed by a number of men of the community, began service in August 1896 with John Allan its first manager. The switchboard, carrying six lines with a separate bell for each line, was located in the rear of the Allan General Store. John Crooks was the assistant operator.

 

Clara Sondag

 

In 1906, Roy White took over the management of the service, built an additional room onto his house on German Street, and moved the board there where he and his wife, Anna, operated the service until July 1915. At this time, Mr. and Mrs. John Crooks became the managers and erected a small building on their property on Hutchinson Street for a telephone office. Mr. Crooks, who was then a rural mail carrier, was the chief operator and his wife, Helen, better known as "Doll", his assistant.

 

 

 

When this rural route was discontinued, Mr. Crooks became an employee of the Harper Lumber Company and Mrs. Crooks assumed the duty of regular operator with Mr. Crooks on duty during the night hours. Here, Mr. and Mrs. Crooks gave 45 years of loyal and untiring service. At first long distance service was available only by means of an independent line to Sigourney, not until 1918 was the Northwestern Bell toll phone installed. Due to the growth of business larger switchboards became necessary. During the Crooks' 45 years of service two new switchboards were installed. Two

 

Mrs. John "Doll" Crooks

and

Mr. and Mrs. John Crooks

 

of Mrs. Crooks' brothers, Francis Clarahan and Edward (Bill Bohr) Clarahan assisted as relief operators. There were others who gave Mrs. Crooks a "breather" now and then. During an illness in 1952 her son, Cloyce, and his wife, Pauline, managed the board. Within eight weeks Mrs. Crooks was back on the full time daytime shift at the board.

 

In April 1958, Mr. and Mrs. Crooks retired. Over a weekend the board was moved to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Clarahan on Lafayette Street. Officers of the Association at that time were Cloyd N. Augustine, president; Victor Weber, P. J. Adam, and Frank Wehr, directors.

 

In the picture above are Leola Redlinger, relief operator for two and one-half years; Mr. and Mrs. Richard Clarahan, who were operators for four years and ten months.

 

 

 

The Central Iowa Rural Telephone Company brought Dial Service to Harper, with the first dial calls being made on January 29, 1963. Shown in the above picture is Alfred Conrad, mayor of Harper as he "tests" the equipment prior to the cut-over to dial operation at Harper. This picture was taken inside the new telephone company building in Harper, and shows a part of the complicated mechanism which operates the Harper Dial System. This new building is located east of the K. of C. Hall. With a change of ownership, The General Telephone Company has been supplying the service since April 1974.

 

 

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