If you've read A Killer In King's Cove, you've seen Lane Winslow, her face tilted up to reach the horn, inviting Angela to come down the hers for a drink, or contacting the Nelson Police about a body she's found lying around in a local creek. This (and thank you Nancy in Queens Bay) is the phone. It is most likely a Kellogg box wall phone, probably made some time in the 1920s. Now, the funny thing about that is by the 1920s rotary dial phones were already widely in use but companies were still producing this elemental model consisting of a crank, a horn to talk into and an earpiece.
In a community like King’s Cove in the 1940s, you didn’t need much more phone. If you wanted to phone somebody you turned the crank and got an operator, who would put you through to someone local, or even across the pond to the old country. I know that when I was a toddler, we had to count the number of rings before we picked up. In the world of party lines you were supposed to only pick up when the call was for you, because you didn’t want to listen to other people’s conversations. Well, you did, of course. But it was considered quite bad form.
Today we wouldn’t consider walking across the street to the drug store without our cellphones, in case something catastrophic happened in the five minutes it takes to pick up blue nail polish, but it is remarkable that in some parts of rural BC some places weren’t ‘on the phone’ until the early 1950s. In these early post war years, even some homes in small towns didn’t have telephones, because there were public phones on the street. Quite restful, really.
But at the same time, if you were stuck somewhere in the snow, or had a flat on a rural road, or had just been kidnapped by an evil-doer, and left on the side of a mountain you’d been driven to blindfolded, you pretty well had to have sensible shoes and be able to figure out where north was. It was likely a long walk to find someone who had a phone.
Luckily for Lane, and for us, the denizens of King’s Cove are busy and nosy, and all on the telephone…they wouldn’t dream of being out of the loop for a single second, at the rate that Lane Winslow, is finding bodies.