Operators of the Nahant Phone Exchange

All Nahant calls (incoming and outgoing) were handled by the Operators at the Nahant Exchange on the corner of Valley Road and Spring Road, from 1911 until Nahant went ‘over dial’ in 1960. They definitely had their fingers on the pulse of Nahant. Not only did they know what was happening, they knew where everyone was. If someone needed Dr. DiClerico, they usually know where they could get a message to him. 


There were at least 18 women operators: Anna McCormack Steele, Margaret McCormack Morton, Mae Prendeville, Betty Mitchell Zeitz, Jessie Dunn, Dotsy Tombeno Feilder, Alma Ross, Mary Gallery Carey, Marie Athy hosker, Sally Farmer Frisone, Connie Bonner Quinn, Barbara Kairevich, Winnie Kane, Lorraine Locke, Hellen Gosselin Foisey, Margaret Waters Burse, Jerry Tombeno Cataggio and Mabel Connarton.

On December 11, 1932, there was a fire at the Exchange, cutting off communication to the outside world. To quote the Item “The night watchman was overcome by smoke and the heroism of three operators, who stuck to their posts, averted destruction of the entire plant, fire missing the main cable by three feet. Fear that gangsters might invade the communication stricken community during the night held the population in fear while every available policeman and coast guardsman patrolled the town to prevent lawlessness as the 600 telephone lines were rendered useless. No outbreaks were reported by Chief Thomas Larkin". The three operators who stayed put were: Mrs. Johnson, chief operator, Miss Ruth Taylor and Miss Margaret McCormack.

The Exchange was shut down on December 3, 1960. On the final day, the operators were allowed to have their family come in to ‘help’ connect calls.  Kathy Carey Letourneau and Mike Golding both had the privilege of connecting calls that day.