Its death has been greatly exaggerated …

17 years ago

Remember when Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) discovered somewhere that there had been an announcement of his death? He then quipped, “The report of my death has been exaggerated.” This was in the year of 1897. Someone had heard that a certain James Ross Clemens, a cousin of Sam’s, had been ill for several weeks and died.

Sometime after, it was reported that it was Sam who had been ill and passed on. But James recovered and Sam felt the need to inform his readers (after all, he was one the most popular authors of the time) that his (Sam’s) death had been exaggerated and, indeed, it was. Well, I, too, have announced the death of a certain “thing”; its death has been greatly exaggerated, as was Sam’s. Thanks to Steve Sutter of this village, this certain “thing” has been discovered alive and well and, as does its relative on the corner of Hall and Second, continues to serve its users. What is this thing, you might ask? Read on, reader, read on.
A few weeks ago, I very firmly believed the last telephone booth (not station) in our town was standing on the corner of Hall and Second. I confirmed this by making a few telephone calls to friends of mine who had worked for the local telephone company. They agreed with me. And to confirm further, I rode about town looking for others and, seeing none, I was even more convinced that the booth on the corner of Hall and Second was, indeed, the very last to exist and, moreover, in working order. I’m a frequent visitor to the Web site, which includes, among other local items, a chat room (guest book) mainly used by county people, either here or away, to communicate with each other regarding local issues, gossip, etc.
After reading my most recent article, “Last Booth Standing” in The Star-Herald, Steve Sutter of the Reach Road happened to cross paths with yet another telephone booth (or so he claimed) located at Page’s Variety Store on the corner of Harris and Parsons. He posted his findings on the Web site and wondered that I might look further into the matter. I vehemently dismissed the idea of another booth; I had done my homework and knew full well another (booth) was simply impossible. But, just in case … you know that one chance in a million … I decided to check it out this morning (Sunday, Aug. 19) and reconfirm my homework had paid off and that I was right (about the last booth). There simply was no way I was going to find another booth. After all, dear reader, I searched all the nooks and crannies, hadn’t I?
I was horrified! In the mist of early morning stood a telephone booth just like the one in front of the telephone office on Second Street. Hadn’t I searched every nook and cranny? Hadn’t I made all the right phone calls to the right people? Hadn’t I motored about town enough and checked all the possible places another could be found? I thought I had. The only nook and cranny I had ignored was a site which I could have never imagined a booth to be … Page’s Variety Store. No matter how much one thinks one knows, someone always comes along and knocks one off his or her perch. I got knocked off and thumped my head, so to speak. Well, there it was … standing, working, serving, alive. Its death had been greatly exaggerated and I was to blame.
Listen up now. I am absolutely certain that there are only two booths standing within the boundaries of our town. So certain am I that another doesn’t exist, I shall buy the finder a fine lunch at Heidi’s Tea Shop just on the other side of a door in my office. I sincerely hope that finder never finds. Understand now, it’s not the cost of lunch, but the cost of being wrong twice (remember Gene and Trigger?) in a row would be unbearable. In that case, I shall fall upon my sword.
Thanks for reading. If you have anything to add (or subtract), simply e-mail me at, or write a letter to the editor and express your opinion (good or bad). See you in a couple of weeks.