Mar 17 2013
Telephones in Cuyahoga Falls homes were first installed after the exchange was built in 1882. There were only 35 local telephones and they had access to only a small local area of less than 150 phones.
The first telephone exchange was opened in a small room, about 10 feet square, in the rear of Mercer’s Drug Store. It was opened and installed under M. J. Carney, manager of the Central Union Telephone Co (later purchased by Ohio Bell.)
The exchange room was crowded with furniture. In addition to a 50-wire switchboard, there was an old cupboard where the wires were placed (there was no cable then). The bottom of the cupboard stored the night operator’s bedding which at night he spread out on chairs or on the floor. A small rickety kitchen table served as a desk and an old coal stove kept the room warm during the winter. This added to the operator’s duties by keeping the stove fed and stoked. Blake transmitters and grounded circuits added to the problems of the operators. It was almost impossible to talk to Akron, only five miles away. The trouble was worse after a streetcar was extended from North Hill to the Falls. The line ran parallel with the telephone wires. Citizens would have to wait until the streetcars passed the route so they could continue their conversations.
The citizens of Cuyahoga Falls used a public phone that was placed next to the switchboard to make local phone calls.
Fred Wills was hired as the first operator on duty at the exchange and H. E. Allen the second. Miss Laura M. Hall was placed on duty in 1885. Miss Hall’s brother, W. C. Hall was the first manager at Cuyahoga Falls.
Because of the cramped conditions and the inconvenience of the location, the office was moved to the Apollo Building on Front Street in 1888. Shortly before the move took place, Mr. Hall resigned as manager and Miss Hall took his place continuing in this position until 1897 when she became associated with the up and coming AT & T.