Twitter apparently is the new eight-party line.
Growing up in Ruston when it truly was a rural community (the two taxi services were the One-Four (green Chevrolets) and the Twelve Hundred (black Fords) taxi companies because their respective telephone numbers were 14 and 1200. (One could go just about anywhere in Ruston for a quarter and the cabbie kept his money in a cigar box—and tipping was unheard of.) The local furniture store was 1. Apparently they had the first telephone ever installed in Ruston.
Much like Barney Fife and Andy in The Andy Griffith Show, we had to pick up the receiver and wait for the operator to come on the line and we would give her the number we wanted to call.
This was, of course, long before the first dial system came to Ruston and our number was changed from first 122-J and then 1190-M (the letters J and M told the switchboard operator which way to move the lever—push forward and pull back were the options—to ring the proper number on a two-party line. Four- and eight-party lines had ring codes like a long, a short and another long, etc.) to Alpine 5-0177, later AL5-0177 and then simply to 255-0177 and still later to 255-5276 because the telephone company didn’t want the last four digits starting with a zero. (And we thought things were simpler back then.)
But even with the dial system, we remained on a two-party line with our neighbor, the Williamsons. To my knowledge, neither of us listened to the others’ conversations because we were friends and respected each other.
Out in the country, it was a different story. The best way to get news back then was to listen in on those eight-party lines—mainly because with eight households sharing a line, it was impossible to know who was eavesdropping.
Ah, nostalgia. It’s not what it used to be.
Twitter, it seems, can be just as fun.
Take the recent exchange between Gov. Bobby Jindal’s alter-ego Timmy Teepell and Robert Mann, political historian, holder of the Manship Chair in Journalism at the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU, and who formerly worked for three U.S. Senators and former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
The topic of conversation was the recent report by the Louisiana Inspector General which noted that the Jindal administration paid the equivalent of $28 a bag for 10-pound bags of ice following Hurricane Isaac last year only to pay another $312,000 restocking fee to the ice vendor and then allow the ice to melt in an unrefrigerated storage building at a total cost of more than $7.1 million.
Occasionally others listening in on the 21st Century party line would chime in.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the entire string of comments, but we have enough to know that Teepell got a little thin-skinned about the whole matter and attempted to toss the issue back into the lap of Blanco by alluding to events that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Following are a few of the choice comments:
- Mann: “Jindal’s response to Ice Capade is that too much is not enough. If only he took same approach to higher ed and health care funding.”
- Teepell to Mann and Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project: “Remember when (Mann) worked for Blanco and that hurricane hit and people didn’t have enough ice. That sucked.”
- Mann to Teepell and Moller: “Waiting days and days for the ice, buses and troops that Bush and FEMA promised. That really sucked.”
- Teepell to Mann: “Do u remember working for Blanco? Should I post links to the TV footage? When people need food, ice and water…u get it 4 them.”
- Mann to Teepell: “You seriously want to talk about people ‘suffering’ under a governor’s watch?? Your irony meter needs adjusting.”
- Teepell to Mann: “We got ice to everyone who needed it…but under your watch (Mann was working for Blanco at the time of Katrina), these folks were left to suffer.”
- Mann to Teepell: “I recognize those people. They’re the same ones to whom you now refuse health insurance. They love Jindal.”
- Teepell to Mann (attaching photo of a throng outside the New Orleans Convention Center after Katrina): “Do you recognize these people, too?”
- At this point someone named Calvin Lester Jr. offered his two cents worth to Teepell and Mann: “Those are the people you (Republicans) made sure never came back so your guy could win.”
- Another participant, Jenny Barber Valois, to Teepell and Mann: “I applaud having ordered ice. The amount and waste are unacceptable. Melting for a month, why not offer to public?”
- Third party line member, identified only as Baudenski, to Teepell and Mann: “So happy that the nation’s most desperate can be used to prop up Jindalite’s rhetoric.”
That certainly beats the local news from the old eight-party lines where the most titillating news item was when it was learned that Mrs. Brewster just got back from Houston where she had a wart removed from her nose only to learn that Mr. Brewster had supper of squash, collard greens and cornbread with the widow Johnson while she was gone.
But I’d still rather hear about the wart on Mrs. Brewster’s nose any day than listen to Timmy Teepell whine.
Somehow, trying to prop this administration up by attacking someone who has been out of office for more than five years just doesn’t seem to be much of a defense for such monumental waste.
I guess as much as anything else, it’s his cavalier attitude that is so reflective of the entire Jindal administration that I find offensive.