I remember the operator asking, "Number, please?" when I picked up the receiver--in 1954 or 55 in St Cloud, Minnesota.
This week, Larry was curious about when Buckman connected to the outside world by telephone, and he went looking online. The startling thing was that he found the answer (!) from "Telephone Magazine", in 1904:
And, even better, this from 1906:
We wondered if that's really all it took--a few people deciding to string lines? Evidently, it was, more or less. I saw an earlier bit in Telephone Magazine that insisted on nothing less than #8 gauge wire be used.
(BTW, the pic above is a random operator in 1925--she's no one we know...lol)