Photo from the Goodsell Museum’s collection
Erma Scholl mans the switchboard in Old Forge. Scholl was also a seamstress and worked at the school cafeteria. Jane Tormey remembers calling home from vacation. “You had to tell the operator our call was a ring down and they would connect us to Erma or a local operator and they in turn would connect us [to the party]. Unless Erma knew no one was home,” laughed Jane.
By M. LISA MONROE
North Country Public Radio was in Old Forge at the Goodsell Museum on Wednesday, May 31, working on its North Country at Work Project.
The project is an effort to explore “the work history of the Adirondack North Country, community by community, based on the photos and stories we collect and shape into an online, public archive. The archive will trace our work history through the earliest photos from the 19th century up to present time, and into the future. We are building a searchable history that residents and visitors, educators and historians will all find interesting and useful,” according to NCPR’s website.
On Wednesday it was Old Forge’s turn. North Country at Work project coordinator Amy Feiereisel and station manager Ellen Rocco were tucked away in the back room of the Goodsell Museum hearing stories from people like Al and Ruth Brussel, (who talked about a homemade fire fighting wagon called the Blitz Buggy, and Dan Josephson who spoke to them about fish management.
Rocco says that they did about a dozen oral histories.
“We had the perfect number of people at the museum: as Amy finished interviewing one person, another arrived. This visit was really designed to give us a sense of the Goodsell’s existing collecting. We barely skimmed the surface. We’ll be back! This project will be going on for years to come, with all kinds of special events in locations around the region,” Rocco said.
She really enjoyed the conversation about the old fashioned telephone switchboard service that Old Forge had into the ’70s.
“When I moved to DeKalb, I was on a 10-party party line,” said Rocco.