Days Gone By - stories from the past

Fifty years ago the little town of Haleyville, Alabama was in the national spotlight!

On February 16, 1968, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system in the nation went into service in Haleyville.


The town decided to institute an emergency number when the local phone company, the small independent company, Alabama Telephone Company, switched to an automatic system and many services were lost. Since it was a small company, the local telephone operators had always handled emergency calls. The town officials were concerned about who would handle them within the automated system.

Congress called for action in 1958

In 1958, Congress had called for a separate national emergency number and the number 911 was chosen because those digits were not being used in any telephone exchange and probably would not be used for some time in the future. Disagreements immediately arose across the country over whether calls should go to hospitals, police stations or fire stations.

While the rest of the country was arguing over the matter, Haleyville officials took matters into their own hands and decided on the police station.

The first call made on Feb. 16, 1968

Two lines to the police station were set aside for incoming calls and a red phone was installed in the dispatcher’s office to receive calls. Then officials realized that they forgot about pay phones so the next day, pay phones were modified so 911 calls could be made without the need for coins.

The first call was made by Rankin Fite, the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives at 2 p. m. on February 16, 1968, to Alabama Congressman Tom Bevill. Immediately afterward, they celebrated with coffee and doughnuts.

The second system was installed a few weeks later in Nome, Alaska.

The old rotary dial red phone is on display at the new city hall.

911 Celebration in Haleyville

On June 1, 2018, to June 2, 2018, Haleyville will celebrate this 50th anniversary with a 911 Festival. The event has been held annually on the first weekend of June. There are no admission fees. Check the Haleyville Chamber of Commerce website for more details on the festival.

The old City Hall building where the red phone was located has been torn down and replaced with a CVW. However, there is a sign outside of the CVS that commemorates the occasion.

 

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One

  • ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration
  • ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Settlement
  • ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Pioneers
  • ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Statehood

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One (Volume 1-4) (Paperback)


By (author): Donna R Causey
List Price:$38.51 USD
New From:$35.31 USD In Stock

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

Liked it? Take a second to support Alabama Pioneers on Patreon!
Tags:

25 comments

  1. Linda Grissom

    Marjorie Nuckols Lowrance, please show this to Paul.

  2. Donna, this is my hometown and the residents of Haleyville are very proud of this heritage.

  3. Yvonne Mccullar

    Wow, didn’t know it was that long ago.

  4. Janice Bailey-Mobley

    Charles L Yell this is interesting isn’t it

  5. Susan Bryant Myers

    Colored reflectors on the roads did too. Blue reflectors for fire hydrant, Daphne fire dept.

  6. Anthony Balch

    Funny thing, I worked for the Phone Company years ago and there was the story of how it became officially nine-one-one rather than nine-eleven. Supposedly a man had a heart attack and died because his wife couldn’t find the eleven on the phone dial.

  7. Forrestnjennifer Plumpen

    Was this before we got electricity? Lol….kewl fact!!!

  8. Randall Brickhouse

    Can’t be true! Alabama is 48th or 49th in everything! Except new jobs being created !

  9. Betty Warren Johnson

    There’s my red phone–I use to have a red wall phone in the kitchen wherever we lived-I still like red!!

    1. Krissie Elaine N

      I was noticing the red phone,love it,l still like the red too !

    1. LaShawn Tesseneer Scholl

      Yes! There used to be huge sign on the side of the road as you drove into a Haleyville that said it was the home of 911. A friend of mine from Tuscumia has a daughter that participated in the Miss 911 contest a few weeks ago and came in second place.

  10. Glen Nelson

    We have went real far real fast

  11. Ron Cre
  12. Linda Treadwell Berry

    My dad worked for the Alabama Telephone Company for over 30 years. This story is absolutely true. I just wish it had told the names of the men who worked after hours and in secret to make the installations. They all worked for my dad.

  13. Anthony Johnson

    You couldn’t get through because people were on a party-line. You had to scream at them to get off, because it was an emergency, and then the nosy witches wanted to know why. Unless, you were bless to own a private line.

  14. Patrick N Jennifer Johnson

    WVTM (NBC) just reported, “The very first 911 call was made here in central Alabama.” But Haleyville is in Northwest Alabama.

  15. Annette Chambers

    I have a red phone just like this! I don,t used it but it still works !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.