Blanche Draper, granddaughter of Herman and Annie Draper, the owners of the Children’s Industrial Home and Training School, was the owner of a gift and sewing shop in Des Moines during the early 1930s. She received the Lorraine Rebekah Lodge’s highest award for community service and in 1934 became one of Des Moines’ first telephone operators. She also served on the Board of Directors for Hillgrove Cemetery. Blanche is the woman second from the right in the photo below and made the quilt square depicting the Des Moines Telephone Office of 1940.
Des Moines Telephone Office - 1925-40
In 1925 Pacific Telephone
and Telegraph bought the Des Moines Rural Telephone Company, which had
provided telephone service to Des Moines since 1911. The switchboard was
installed in a small building near Eighth Avenue S. and S. 223rd Street.
The switchboard at that time was a magneto-type switching board operated
by a hand crank. Until 1932 there was only one operator, who worked from
6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. As the switchboard and its capabilities were
upgraded over the years, more operators were added. In 1940 service was
switched to direct dial and handled out of another office at S. 228th
Street, and the Des Moines office was closed.
© 2004 Des Moines Historical Society