TYRINGHAM — Fifty-six names appear at present on a petition being circulated here to have the one telephone in the school which was taken out, to be reinstalled. The petition, which is sponsored by local parents, was circulated after the School Committee, at its November meeting, decided to have the phone removed.

The phone was first installed in May 1947. At that time the school department was assessed a family party line rate. This rate amounted to $2.50, less one-third or a monthly charge of $1.67. Since that time, the rate of telephone service have increased until it reached a point where the telephone company could no longer give the school a family classification and had it listed as a public phone.

As a result, the rates were increased from the original $1.67 to $3.25 per month or a yearly total of $39. With the increase, the school department went into action to investigate the expenditure and at the October meeting instructed Arthur L. Welcome, superintendent of schools, to contact the telephone company requesting information as to establishing the old rate.

In answer to Mr. Welcome's request, George E. Hebert, manager of the New England Telephone & Telegraph Company's Great Barrington office, replied that the old rate could not be given to the school phone. His letter said in part that "since this is a rate set by the regulatory body of the commonwealth, the rate will apply for this class of service for all subscribers. Application of a lower or different rate would be a violation of the tariff under which the company is privileged to operate."

The November meeting of the school board reviewed the letter, and the need of the phone. Over the recommendation of Mr. Welcome that it would be "a foolish move" to have the phone taken out, the committee voted to rid the school of the phone effective Dec. 1.

Mr. Welcome pointed out that "even if the phone served its purpose only once in 10 years, it would be well worth the tariff paid for the service." The board, however, felt that if an emergency did arise, the teacher could use phones in near-by homes and the proximity of available phones made the one in the school unnecessary, in answer to which Mr. Welcome stated that "leaving the classroom in the time of an emergency would put a tremendous responsibility on the teacher."

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.