McEachern, Margaret Elizabeth “Bess”

Margaret Elizabeth “Bess” McEachern. Sharon Barrier Phillips collection.

Margaret Elizabeth “Bess” McEachern. Sharon Barrier Phillips collection.

Lois McEachern, Ray McEachern, Margaret Elizabeth “Bess” McEachern, Jess McEachern, Ora Fisher (wife of Jess McEachern). Sharon Barrier Phillips collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horace Blackwelder, Margaret Elizabeth “Bess” McEachern, Jess McEachern. Sharon Barrier Phillips collection.

Ethel Corriher and Margaret Elizabeth “Bess” McEachern. Sharon Barrier Phillips collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attended class of 1900-1901

Birth: 19 Sep 1882, Cabarrus County, North Carolina
Death: 27 Jul 1963, Cabarrus County, North Carolina

Parents:
David Hall McEachern (1850-1927)
Mary Roxanna Blackwelder McEachern (1854-1919)

Siblings:
Arthur Floyd McEachern (1873-1934)
Hawley Clifford McEachern (1876-1959)
John Leonard McEachern (1879-1948)
James Caldwell McEachern (1880-1965)
Jesse Young McEachern (1886-1917)
David Ray McEachern (1891-1969)

Burial:
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery
Mount Pleasant, Cabarrus County, North Carolina

Source: www.findagrave.com, #30235520, http://www.ancestry.com.

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From Ben Callahan, Memories of Mont Amoena Facebook post, 20 May 2019:

“…She never married and lived in the house just south of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Parsonage. She was one of my mother’s best friends and we visited often when I was very young. She worked as a telephone operator at serveral locations in MP, the last being the building that is now occupied by the Hair Salon on N. Main St…”

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The Concord Tribune (Concord, NC), 6 Apr 1958, 4-B

MISS BESS MCEACHERN is completing 46 years of service with the Concord Telephone Co. this month. She is retiring April 30. Miss Beth worked as switchboard for the company at Mt. Pleasant for 22 years before becoming a collector for the company. She is one of the best known residents of Mt. Pleasant (Tribune Photo by Cline).

Telephone Operator’s Job
‘Miss Bess’ Had Problems: Fires, Tornados[sic], Wrecks

By NED CLINE
Tribune Staff Writer
MT. PLEASANT – There was the tornado in the late 20’s, the fatal auto accident, the time the church caught fire, the untangling of phone wires and always the people’s personal problems, At one time, Miss Bess McEachern had to cope with all these things while on her job.

Miss Bess, as she is affectionately called, worked as switchboard operator for Mt Pleasant from 1912 until 1934, the time the dial system was put into operation.

She is still working for the Concord Telephone Co. but plans her retirement the last day of this month – after 46 years with the company.

Miss Bess began her duties May 1, 1912 as switchboard operator. But her duties did not stop with this task in those early days. She was a jack-of-all trades.

She was called on to make minor repairs on phones, she was asked to untangle lines when they became crossed ans she was the one to replace batteries in the old “crank” phones. All these things came naturally.

These were minor things, however, and her main task was to keep the lines clear and be on hand in case of emergency. And this she did.

This task was filled with tragic, wierd [sic] and unusual happenings. So many, in fact, that it’s hard to remember any one in particular.

One she’ll always remember, however, is the tornado which struck the town “in the late 20’s.”

“Everything was in an uproar” she said in explaining the incident, “and the phone lines were knocked out and poles and wires were blown across the streets so thick that cars could not pass.”

Miss Bess says she clearly remembers running out in the streets in an effort to settle the people and the confusion. It took about 24 hours to clear the streets and get things back in order following the storm.

Then there was the time Holy Trinity Lutheran Church was struck by lightning. This is the time she was really worried.

Miss Bess said she saw the flames start out the steeple and at almost the same minute, the lightning knocked out the lines at the switchboard.

What next?

She was unable to make any calls from her desk and the fire was growing. Minutes later, but it seemed like hours, John Miller placed a call to her desk wanting to reach Concord. Miss Bess said she told him of the fire and he forgot the Concord call and brought all his workers at his lumber plant to fight the blaze.

Fortunately, the structure was not damaged extensively, but it was one hectic time for those few minutes while the lines were dead.

Another incident, this one a tragedy which will long be remembered by Miss Bess, is the time a small child was hit by a truck. A substitute was on the switchboard at that time and according to Miss Bess, she (the substitute) became frightened while attempting to call help.

“I came into the office about that time,” Miss Bess added, “and quickly summoned help. I was excited and frightened too, but I tried to keep calm. That was the only way to handle it. That was my job.”

These three incidents stand out in Miss Bess’ mind but they are only three in a long list of similar happenings during those 22 years on the switchboard.

When the dial system was installed here (the system was installed on a trial basis in Mt. Pleasant even before Concord began using it) there was still room for the hard working Miss Bess.

She began serving as a collector or the phone company and Duke Power Co. she did this work for 15 1/2 years before resigning from the power company and beginning to work only with the telephone company.

She’s been doing this work ever since. Her office has moved several times over the town, but she was right there when needed. Her present office, completed in 1951, is located in the building with the dial system here.

Miss Bess says it will be nice to retire, but it will seem odd leaving the company after so many years. She added that no company could have been nicer to work for and offered her so many opportunities. Everyone has been wonderful, she concluded.

The name of Miss Bess McEachern will remain synonymous wit the telephone company here for years to come. She has played an important role in making the convenience of telephone service a reality for people here. And they are proud of her.

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