Folks More’n Money

One of the early telephone pioneers of the twentieth Century was Marler C. York of Clarksville, Georgia. Mr. York operated a small general store with his uncle, and quickly recognized the convenience that the newly developed telephone would offer. So he bought two telephones, a coil of wire and some insulators. He put one phone in the store and the other in his home, and connected them with the wire, which was strung on poles and trees between the two locations.

His neighbors soon came to appreciate the value and time savings of this system, and began buying telephones, which they attached to Mr. York’s line. A system of code ringing was developed, which allowed subscribers to determine whether a call was for them without having to lift the receiver.

As interest in and use of the telephone mounted, it soon became evident that a more flexible and expandable system would be necessary, and in September 1904, the Standard Telephone Company of Georgia was incorporated, with 28 telephones in service. Mr. York served as owner, lineman, installation man, truck driver, and general handyman for the company.

The company was sold in 1939 to H.M. Stewart. At the time, Standard Telephone Company had four hundred nineteen telephones on the system, and charged $2 per month for residential service.

In 1933, The Georgia Public Service Commission held hearings on rate increases for telephone service. In his appearance, Mr. York was quoted as saying, “You couldn’t give me an increase in rates if you put it on the Christmas tree. I like folks more’n I like money, and I think I made $425 last year, but I get my pleasure out of life in giving good folks good service at a low rate. It’s hard work, this telephone business, but I like it, and I get my pleasure and take a big pride in giving good service. Of course there's sleet in winter and all that, but I like it. I get kidded a lot about my little old rates, but when my folks are having trouble a feller can’t stand out above the crowd and expect to make a lot of money, not if he’s a-thinking right.”

(From “A Vivid and Compelling Dream”)