No, the title doesn’t refer to Steve Bannon or one of his playmates. It refers to a movement that took place in Maine back in 1981. Movement is probably a pretty strong word for laid-back Maine where demonstrators tend not to get worked up into a chanting frenzy over things. And even less so in a sleepy little town like Woodstock whose population squeaked by 1,200 a couple of years ago.
Bryant Pond is Woodstock’s largest settlement and as much of an urban center as you’re likely to find. It captured its fifteen minutes of national fame and media attention during the mid1970s when its family-owned Bryant Pond Telephone Company became the last telephone exchange in the United States to used hand-cranked phones Then in 1981, the two-position magneto switchboard in the living room of the owners was purchased by the Oxford County Telephone & Telegraph Company, a larger company in the Maine neighborhood. The Bryant Pond Telephone Company was swallowed like so many krill off the shores of Maine.
Two Bryant Pond residents started the “Don’t Yank The Crank” movement to save their crank telephones, financed by the sale of tee shirts – a valiant effort but nonetheless futile. At a meeting in the local school gymnasium warmed by a wood stove, townsfolk spoke out. “We have the oldest pay station in the United States,” said one resident, either complaining or bragging. “You put in a nickel and wind it up.” “You are a person instead of a number.” And did they mention no robocalls?
Alas, to no avail. The last “crank calls” took place on October 11, 1983, and the beloved telephones slipped into history like so much Americana.