The job of splicing telephone wires is under way in the vault room. The two men seated here, left to right, are professional contract splicers Lynn Atchison, 314 North Ninth St., and Alva Gore, Longer Trailer Court. A third splicer, Bill Hargrove, also of Richmond, is almost lost in the maze of wires.
Little remains in the main switch room except charred debris and blackened wires. More than four inches of water, laden with debris, covered the second story in the old section.
Emergency Long Distance Service Available; Origin Of Fire Unknown
Firemen were sent to the rear of the telephone company building about 1:30 p.m. Friday when smoke began to come from the top of an elevator shaft above the garage where repair work is under way. The building is just North of the one hit by fire on Thursday. Smoke could be seen and the odor on the floor below was very strong.
Firemen said they could find no fire but theorized that smoke may have been trapped in basement elevator shafts, moving upward when second floor doors were opened. They left the scene at 2:15 p.m.
Crippled by a disastrous blaze Thursday, most costly in telephone history in Indiana, the General Telephone Company Friday continued its round-the clock job of trying to provide some semblance of telephone service for Richmond.
The progress is tortureously slow, but at least it is progress. How long it will be before normal service can be restored is something on which Telephone men would not venture a guess.
Some service is being restored now. That which will be restored in the immediate future will be manual,a process of lifting a receiver and getting an operator. Renewal of automatic equipment such as has been in use must wait.
By noon, this was the picture:
25 Numbers In ServiceMore than 25 emergency and critical user numbers were in service. These include fire, police, sheriff and hospital.
Critical number holders can call each other and can make long distance calls. They also are connected with the substations which remained in use.
New numbers for critical users are being assigned and will be published by the telephone company. The first list is expected to be mailed over the weekend. Others will be added and mailed daily.
Work was being speeded on making pay stations over the city available for use.
The first goal is 80 but the work is tediously slow.
Directions will be posted on those in use. Emergency local calls will be handled through pay phones as well as emergency long distance calls on a collect or charge basis. The pay stations will be operated without the usual dime.
Pay telephone stations in use at 2 p.m. were at:
Greyhound Bus Station (2)
Rathskeller, 1311 South Eighth St.
North West Fifth and Richmond Ave.
Wake-up Oil, U.S. 40 East.
South Eighth and E Sts.
Coin Laundry, North West L and Sheridan Sts.
Kutter's, Sixteenth and Main Sts.
North West Fifth and L Sts.
Heavy use was reported being made of a battery of 25 telephones set up in the company's downtown office, 31 North Ninth St., where emergency long distance calls can be placed. The office is open day and night.
Some Calls ReceivedSome emergency long distance calls in the city were received at the office but because of the destruction of switching equipment, could not be relayed to the intended receivers. Word was gotten to them by police.
Telephone patrons with numbers beginning with 962, 966, and 969 are still completely out of service.
Those with numbers beginning with 935 may call 935-1161, 935-1171 and 935-1181 to get an operator who will relay emergency calls.
Those with numbers beginning with 973 may call 973-1162, 973-1163 or 973-1164 for the same service.
Those with telephones beginning with 957 may call 957-2055, 057-2065 or 957-2075.
These numbers are linked with substations and each can call the other.
The only service available to all other phone users is the emergency long distance set-up at the phone company office, and the service being put in at pay stations, although by no means have all of the more than 200 been so equipped.
W. P. Rigdon, Richmond manager for General Telephone, said he believes that utility "can handle all the incoming and outgoing emergency calls that must, (and he stressed 'must') be placed from the business office
Several emergency calls were placed and received during the night both at the business office and at the three substations. Close cooperation of police and other volunteer emergency radio units made it possible.
More Equipment ArrivesMeanwhile repair equipment continues to pour into the city, not only from Indiana but from surrounding states. Telephone companies help each other out in emergencies. This one is no exception.
Michigan Bell sent a 1200-line manual emergency central office which is in a huge semi-trailer. Best way to make use of it is being studied.
More than 200 men make up the force at work in and around the telephone company office. Trucks are everywhere. So is equipment. But one look at the
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Be Sure You Know Fire Station Location;
New emergency Fire Department plans went into effect Friday as a result of the General Telephone Co. fire that silenced the city's fire alarm box system except those of the West side of the Whitewater River.
Some Alarm Boxes Out
No alarm boxes are operating East of the river, but efforts are being made to restore service. The East side boxes operate through a hookup with the telephone company.
Chief Ernest Fredricks urged all residents to acquaint themselves with fire station locations; emergency communication centers and the public pay telephone stations in their immediate areas which so far have been made available for use. All will be as soon as possible.
Men are on duty at the six fire stations all the time as they are at Citizen Band radio locations. The latter locations are listed in another part of The Palladium-Item.
"Clip out the list of stations and alarm boxes carried below; the radio operators; and public telephone locations so you can readily get to one or the other in event of fire," the chief urged.
The widespread failure of fire alarm circuits has caused concern in systems which operate over telephone lines in factories and stores.
Guards NeededMost plants served by the automatic (ADT) systems have been requested to keep night guards on duty in case a fire should break out. City and Civil Defense Police units are stationed near industrial and business areas to be on hand in case an emergency develops.
Chief Fredricks reminded again that anyone using a West side alarm box should stay at the box until firemen arrive so they can tell them where the fire is located.
Fire stations are located as follows:
No. 1, in the City Building.
No. 2, near North Eighth Street and the Pennsylvania Railroad.
No. 3, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth on North A Street.
No. 4, at the corner of South Eighth and L Streets.
No. 5, near North West Fifth and Peacock Road.
No. 6, on North West Fifth Street near the Belden and Avco plants.
Radio communication is operative between the stations. The same is true between the stations and Citizens Band radio operators.
The Fire Chief said whenever residents in the following areas see a department vehicle parked in front, a fire can be reported because they are radio equipped.
Chief Fredericks' residence, 22 South Fourteenth St.
Inspector Fred Klotz's residence, 2203 North E St.
Maintenance man Harry Hengstler residence, 317 South Fifth St.
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Other Page 1 Fire Stories ...
By Sharon Little
Stalwart is the word that best describes General Telephone Operators.
Working on a switchboard set up in a garage at the North Ninth Street firm, there were smiling faces despite the chill, smoky smell, and men working up, over and around them.
Slacks, warm jackets and boots replaced the usual apparel of blouses, skirts and heels!
Four operators were manning the board at 8:45 a.m. Friday, according to Larry Bricker, division traffic manager. Operators had worked throughout the night Thursday.
These women are handling the calls for users considered "critical": Reid Memorial Hospital, Wayne County Sheriff's Department, police and fire departments.
These users can contact one another, Bricker said, but their calls to other locations are still impossible.
Emergency calls coming into the board for persons still without telephone service will be given to a feminine "runner," who will deliver the message by car or see that it is delivered to the called party.
To Man SubstationsSome operators will be located in three telephone substations in Richmond when service into these sites is established and will also dispatch messages, Bricker said.
Some 80 pay stations located in strategic sections of the city will be put into service as soon as possible.
This will enable residents without service to use a pay station phone for contact into the telephone switchboard.
Bricker emphasized announcement will be made when this phase of temporary emergency service is completed and in operation.
A setup in which some operators will assist in placing calls on a manual basis rather than through a switchboard will be functioning also, Bricker said.
He said a large number of operators will be need for this type of service.
To Use Mobile UnitsIn addition to the four positions being manned at the firm's garage switchboard, mobile units, each having positions for five operators, will swing into action as soon as possible.
Private Branch Exchange (PBX) operators who operate switchboards in places such as industries and schools have been or shortly will be contacted by a General Telephone representative as to what they can expect service-wise in the days ahead
Richmond residents, Anxious to assure out-of-town relatives that things are under control here, were driving to pay telephones in nearby communities to make calls.
Many who needed to make long distance calls of a family nature that they felt did not classify as emergency were seeking out phones in these nearby towns where telephone systems are not connected with the Richmond tie-up.
Some went to New Paris, Ohio; others to towns north of here, where phones are connected with the Winchester exchange, and some to Cambridge and Milton and west of the city.
What is happening if yours is one of the telephones with the still operable 973, 935 or 957 prefixes?
Mrs. Lewis Glover, 206 Cartwright Drive, who has a 973 prefix, says she can easily phone any numbers with the same prefix. These are located mostly in her immediate neighborhood. However, she keeps getting busy signals when she dials numbers with either of the other two prefixes.
On a try for a 935 prefix number in a home south of the city Thursday night, she cut in on a jumble of sounds and conversations.
Extra operators were busy Friday as the Western Union office, 14 North Ninth St., kept communication lines open between Richmond and other parts of the nation.
Telegrams delivered to the office took a big jump before noon as factories and businesses without telephone service used Western Union facilities.
As of 3 p.m., the office had been open 36 hours. A taxicab was used to deliver telegrams, in addition to the regular bicycle messenger. An additional auto was being sought.
P.M. Shields of Indianapolis, district manager, said the office would remain open if business warranted.
All outgoing telegrams were being routed through Detroit, Mich.
Trunk lines were kept open to Perfect Circle Corporation, Nettle Creek Industries, Richmond Fireproof Door and to Cambridge City.
The grain ticker remained in service, but no New York stock quotations were received Thursday or Friday.
Service to several industries was hampered because Western Union went through the office of General Telephone, damaged by the fire.
To provide extra personnel to keep the local Western Union office open, workers were moved here from Muncie, Bloomington and Connersville.
Like many others, O.M. Kendall, Richmond businessman, was hot footing it down Main street Friday.
"Doing my telephoning by foot," he explained.
"Our grandparents didn't have it any better but then they were used to it."
Transcribed by James E. Bellaire
Copyright 1965 Palladium-Item