Bryant Pond, Maine’s Crank Telephones Featured on 1980s TV Show
Did you know that Bryant Pond, Maine had its own telephone company that still used crank telephones up until the 1980s?
If you've ever driven through Bryant Pond on your way to Bethel or Sunday River, you may have noticed this giant phone in a park.
It's dedicated to the Bryant Pond Telephone Company that operated out of the living room of Elden Hathaway and his wife. Up until it was bought in 1981 by what today is known as FirstLight, the family-run phone company still used crank telephones. You'd turn the crank, an operator in the Hathaway's living room would answer and you would tell them who you want to call.
Just before they sold the business, the hit NBC TV show Real People sent co-host Skip Stephenson and a camera crew to Bryant Pond to film the little telephone company. Here's a shot of Skip talking with Elden about how his phone company works. Could this look any more rural Maine?
Here are the operators at the switchboard in the living room, most likely also Hathaways.
There are also some great shots of what the town looked like 40 years ago.
You can watch the episode featuring the Bryant Pond Telephone Company on Amazon Prime for 99 cents. Look for Season 3 Episode 20 of Real People to see the segment.
You can also read more about the history of the Bryant Pond Telephone Company and see historic photos from Michael Hathaway's book Everything Happened Around the Switchboard.
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