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Monument to Communication

March 18, 2014
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A neighbor and phone aficionado, Stephen Scurletis, has thoughtfully directed us to some phone history resources. It is particularly interesting to us because it tells us more about the B.A.B. and its place in the world. One particular item he mentioned to look for is a little booklet produced around 1926 with the epic title of “A Monument to Communication, The Romance of a Modern Colossus Built Upon Human Speech” produced by the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company.

It is hard to imagine a utility using such grand language these days and being so proud of their accomplishments.

It is hard to imagine a utility using such grand language these days and being so proud of their accomplishments.

I found myself with some spare time at the Central Library last weekend and decided to see if I could find it. With the help of Adele in the St. Louis Room, it was found with a grouping of Bell annual reports. It turns out, a relation of hers works in one of the active exchanges and she did some research for him, so she knew right where to look.

It is a pretty publication with decorative flourishes.

It is a pretty publication with decorative flourishes.

Of particular note is a large composition of the St. Louis exchanges as they were in 1926, include the B.A.B., a.k.a. the Riverside Central Office Exchange.

Not all of them still exist, most that do are no longer phone buildings. A surprising number do still exist in some fashion and have been re-purposed.

Not all of them still exist, most that do are no longer phone buildings. A surprising number do still exist in some fashion and have been re-purposed.

Adolescent B.A.B., not yet fully formed

Adolescent B.A.B., not yet fully formed

What comes to mind, when looking at this, is that they were a proud company back then and they clearly valued their place in the community.

They produced quality buildings and celebrated their investments in their publications.

They produced quality buildings and celebrated their investments in their publications.

It was important to them to do more than protect some wires from the weather. When did so many institutions lose that pride in their creations? Public ventures are hugely criticized if they even give the appearance of spending a bit more to make something better than the bare minimum. It is taken as imprudent to invest in something that could last beyond our lives.

Ok, so what started out as a celebration of history has turned into a rant about our lack of respect for our institutional infrastructure. I can take heart in the fact that these Monuments do largely still exist, some continuing to serve their original purpose and other serving needs their makers could never have imagined, even with their grand visions.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2019 11:34 am

    I work in the 1010 Pine building and found this booklet there also. I have been looking for one to buy, have not found on yet. (or hidden in this building)

    • Sue permalink*
      October 24, 2019 11:39 am

      A terrific building! I heard the building next door that was a Bell building has sold. It will be good to have the block in use again. Good luck on your BAB search.

  2. Tim permalink
    January 2, 2015 10:26 am

    This isn’t a movie in the making – it’s a sit-com. Having fun catching up on posts I’ve missed.

  3. Maurine Pruchnicki permalink
    March 19, 2014 5:55 pm

    This sounds like a book in the making, Sue. Think about it. Love, Mom

    • Sue permalink*
      March 19, 2014 6:02 pm

      Michelle Swatek told us that we should write a book, then get a movie deal, then we can afford to do this project!

Trackbacks

  1. More Phone History | B. A. B.
  2. Another Telephone Building | B. A. B.
  3. Building Records at the Library | B. A. B.

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