Agricultural Advertising, May, 1906, pages 587-589:
Telephones Link the Farms
It has not been so long in the west since the ox cart was the only means of carrying on traffic between farm and village that the present generation does not remember it vividly; and it is equally well remembered when the horse was substituted for the ox, says the New York Herald.
It is less than a score of years ago that the bicycle came into use as the quick means for reaching town from the farm, and many a country boy and girl, too, will recall when "dad," who had bought a bicycle for the children, sent them to town to get the mail and perhaps some of the household necessities.
It is only within the last few years that the telephone has reached the farmer's home in passing from village to village in the rural districts, and it has required only a short time for the farmer to realize the benefits therefrom. Along with the rural telephone came the rural mail carrier, and with the two combined there seemed nothing more to wish for. The carrier brought the daily papers, the letters and the latest magazines. He also took messages or messages were sent by telephone to the merchant in the nearest village, and he returned with the goods. It was cheaper than hitching up old Dobbin and spending half a day that might better be employed in the field. But with the telephone came new ideas. Now the farmer is to receive at least once a day, and perhaps twice a day, all the important news of the world.
The system is being installed in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota, and within six months will be in vogue wherever telephones are used in the rural districts. Not only this, but every schoolhouse will be connected, and while the service is being transmitted a recess will be had, after which the teacher will impart to her pupils the news of the forenoon. The farmers will have an added advantage, for they will get the news twice a day--at noon and at 7 o'clock in the evening.
The plan also contemplates the creation of news centers throughout the west, where news will be gathered and transmitted to country telephone lines from some principal city. The plan outlined by the rural telephone companies premises early fulfillment, and includes the employment of a news gatherer at each point touched by the line.
The rural telephone companies propose to supply farmers and subscribers in villages with the current news of the world. The news will be transmitted during the noon hour from cities to certain designated country towns. At promptly 1 o'clock all the subscribers on the rural lines, having been previously notified, will be "rung up" by an agreed signal and the important news of the day will be read to each listening subscriber.
The scheme is being perfected now in Minnesota and Iowa, and has made such a hit that new subscribers are taxing the ability of the line builders. It beats the rural mail carrier in circulating news and gossip and is placing the farmers in touch with the world's news long before the daily papers can reach him.
At first it was thought that the undertaking would injure the circulation of the newspapers, but the reverse is proving true. Obviously in a twenty minute talk the operator can give only the bare facts concerning the news. In fact, this is all he receives from the news center and the result is to whet the curiosity of the ruralite for full details, which can be obtaincd only through the city dailies, and which, if he is not already taking, he at once subscribes for.
"The most notable result of the news service," says the manager of a rural telephone line, "is the increase in subscribers and our merchants note a corresponding increase in telephone orders for goods to be sent for by the rural mail carrier, while the farmer's visits to town have become less frequent and are now seldom made when he is not going to market with his produce.
"As an illustration, one rural line which operates over 100 miles in southern Minnesota has divided its line into two divisions, fairly good-sized towns being at each end. At St. Paul it has engaged the services of a newspaper man to telephone the best news up to noon and again at 7 o'clock p. m. This news is then transmitted bv the operator for each division over the line, the subscribers having been notified 'news service.' Some member of the family is designated to take down 'the news,' and the result is proving wondrously satisfactory."