Rev. E. P. Powell, in a most readable article in the Christian Register, brings out very vividly the changes that are being wrought in the social life of rural communities by the recent extensions of the telephone system. The telephone, he says, is now much more widely used by the farmers of our Northern States than by the city people, and in illustration of this condition he refers to one city in New York State with 60,000 people that has only one telephone for every six families, while in an adjacent rural township there are two hundred telephone subscribers in a population of only five hundred families. Through the telephone the farmer is enabled to know the prices of all his products and to make his bargains in a full knowledge of the situation, without the trouble of going to the towns. He is also enabled to make many of his purchases in the same way; but all this has reference to the economic side of the rural telephone service rather than the social side, and it is the latter that Mr. Powell especially dwells upon. "In my own house," he says, "my sons frequently play the violin for a group of a dozen or more families scattered over a radius of two or three miles. The music is heard as perfectly in the most remote house as in the nearest. In the same way the women of a circuit have established telephone tea parties. At a certain hour they sit down to their 'phones, drink their own tea, and distribute the gossip. We imagine that news is softened that goes over the 'phone. At any rate the town will lose its rapid gait, each person will have a hearing. Such a party requires no special dressing, no labor of walking nor waste of time. There is no reason why this sort of service may not cover much club work."
From Indiana word comes of the establishment of a telephone news service. Once each day the word "Attention" calls each subscriber to take his place at the 'phone. "Now set your watches or clocks; it is exactly 5 o'clock" Then follows a summary of the news of the day from all over the world. This is followed by a brief statement of local events, and then of market reports. The service covers a whole county, and is limited to exactly half an hour. When the time is up "Good night" closes the session.
These county telephone systems, it may be said, generally furnish service at rates that seem incredibly small to city patrons of the telephone. It appears that in Ohio one dollar a month is a frequent charge for service covering an entire county.