Telephone Switchboards & Exchanges

By Larry Horton

The older natives of our little town will remember this. In the fall of 1958, Bentonville switched from manual switching that had been used throughout the US to automatic. Each central office had the use of 9999 exchanges. Bentonville's was CRestwood 3, or 273. Rogers was MElrose-6, or 636. And so on. Before that time, you could call the operator at the central office, usually Rose Goodman, who was our operator for years. Like Sara in Mayberry, you told her who you wanted and she would get them.

The only number I can say from memory was the Plaza Theater, which used to be the Meteor in a previous life. It was 273-2222, an important number for a kid to know back in the day. My home number today is the same one my grandmother received in the fall of 1958. I have always kept it. Who knows, maybe someone from 60 years ago may want to call me sometime...

Larry Horton has a Master's degree in history concentrating on southern US history in general and Bentonville in particular. He owns Bentonville Real Estate Company.  Read more on his history blog: