How an 8 Party Line, Hatbox Car and 2 Farm Kids Saved the Elliot House

A Walden Farm Tale – Gramps and Viv Walden

th_002One five, ring twelve was our number at Walden Farm. It rang one long ring and two short. Sometimes my sister Lambie and I would pick up when other people were called just to listen in and have a bit of fun. We knew everybody’s number on our 8 party line.

One winter in late February, as Lambie and I were eating breakfast before heading off to school, the phone went crazy – it was ringing wildly and making no sense. Figuring something must be wrong somewhere, I picked up and Elsie Elliot, who lived about a mile away, was frantically hollering, ‘My house is on fire! My house is on fire!’

Lambie and I were just a couple of farm kids but we knew what to do and we wasted no time. I called to Lambie, ‘Get the car out!’ and she jumped into our 1928 Chevrolet. That car looked like a hatbox on wheels and had a top speed of 45 mph downhill.

Lambie was our best driver on the farm; she used to go out and practice 180’s in the winter just for the fun of it. We came through town after school one day and as she drove past the Post Office she said ‘Oh, I forgot to check the mail’, quickly spun around 180 degrees to drive into the PO driveway from the other side of the road.

Another time we were passing by the Drew’s house on our way to school and a black cat was in the middle of the road; Lambie accelerated, shut the motor off, turned it back on and BANG the car backfired!!! That cat flew off the road and remained airborne for about 10 feet. Sometimes Lambie did the same thing when we went through town and kids were walking in the street –BANG- and those kids scattered.

Anyway, with Lambie at the wheel, I knew we’d get to that house fire lickety-split. I grabbed the garden hose and had barely jumped in the car when it took off like a shot. Out the driveway, down the road and with a squeal of breaks we pulled into the Elliot’s driveway.

I hooked the hose to the kitchen sink and swung the nozzle hard into the wall; it broke through and hit the fire in the chimney. By the time the fire department arrived, the fire was out. Lambie and I took our garden hose back home, picked up our homework and lunches and went to school.

The old Elliot  house is still standing by Sawyer Pond as a testament to two quick thinking farm kids, a hatbox car, a garden hose and that eight party phone line!

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2 Responses to How an 8 Party Line, Hatbox Car and 2 Farm Kids Saved the Elliot House

  1. marsha and lew hartz says:

    good one, Viv on the Elliott fire!!

  2. Kirsten Brown says:

    Finally got to read this one. What an adventure!

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