Listen to the Weekly Radio Readings by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member
Recorded September 2018
September 2, 9, 16 A continued story from Marcella Eklund Woidtke’s story of her mother’s family. Her mother was Emily Nelson Erickson, and Emily’s parents, Arne and Mathilde Nelson, were born in Norway and emigrated to the US, and then settled in Roseau County and were married in 1901. Arne had a son named Cambel Nelson by his first wife who had died a few months after the baby’s birth, and Cambel came to live with his father and stepmother when they were married and settled in the Duxby area of Roseau County. I’ll continue reading from Marcella’s story now.
September 23 A story from Shirley Welin Lenius, who grew up in the Roseau community, and now lives in Duluth. She learned her switchboard skills working in Minneapolis, then Thief River Falls, then at the Marvin switchboard in Warroad, and then in Roseau.
She described the working area of the little house, which was owned by Northwestern Bell. The telephone company with its switchboard was contained in that house, and there was an apartment on the other side to be used by the Chief Operator, Othelia Gaukerud. There were places for four operators if needed with only three chairs to sit at the switchboard, but usually only one or two operators were working at a time. Shirley laughed saying she believed Othelia hand-picked her for her long arms. There was a lot of stretching and reaching to connect the calls. The 24-hour coverage requirement meant that someone had to work overnight and it was usually the employee with the least seniority. Dorothy Rykken Wattman came to work at 7 AM to relieve the night shift operator, operating the switchboard until 8 AM when she put on her other hat and became the office clerk when the office was open to the public…
September 30 After last week’s story of the Northwestern Bell office in Roseau switching over to the new system, we look at the Roseau Times-Region from 1965, when that change happened. I found an article with pictures of three operators sitting at the switchboard, Leona Kellerman, Othelia Gaukerud, and Dorothy Wattman. A $480,000 Investment had been made to provide the dial and touch tone service which replaced the old switchboard. A second photo showed two equipment men, Mr. Weis and Mr. Sletten, who did the final switchover, automating the connections in the new building. The public also had to be given a few tips about how the system worked.
Thank you to for letting us share the history of our county with your listeners.