“On Dec. 16, 1948, Ray Hewitt installed a telephone in the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Pace in Alamance County — the millionth rural telephone added by the Bell System since the end of World War II….
“[Hewitt’s wife] Martha, a telephone operator in Burlington, made the connections so Pace could speak with President Truman at the White House. (The president’s number: National 1414.)
” ‘The president’s words cannot be heard,’ the Southern Telephone News would report later, ‘but whatever he is saying seems to be pleasing farmer Pace. Mrs. Pace smiles as she watches her husband and looks mighty proud.’
“Everyone seemed to be crammed into the Paces’ farmhouse that day. There was a film crew. The ceremonial calls, broadcast live by WPTF in Raleigh, were carried by 16 N.C. stations.
“Also at the house were Sen. J. Melville Broughton, Gov.-elect Kerr Scott, Southern Bell President Hal S. Dumas and radio star Kay Kyser ….”
— From “President Truman on the line” by Mark Wineka in the Salisbury Post (Jan. 5)
On this day in 1941: After appearing at Raleigh’s State Theatre in the stage version of “The Philadelphia Story,” Katharine Hepburn attends a cast party at the Executive Mansion hosted by Gov. and Mrs. J. Melville Broughton.
“Miss Hepburn wore a mink coat over tan gabardine slacks and jacket, with white blouse of crepe silk and brown suede shoes with crepe rubber soles,” reports the News & Observer. “Her informal attire and equally informal manner put at ease all her admirers.”
The accompanying photo shows her enjoying a smoke while conversing with the Broughtons.
Hepburn, 33, tells reporters she hasn’t seen enough of North Carolina to form an opinion, “But the beds in the hotel are nice.”
On this day in 1942: Alice Broughton, wife of Gov. J. Melville Broughton, orders a rubber mat ripped off the servants’ staircase in the Executive Mansion to donate to the war effort.
Accompanied by a reporter and photographer from the Raleigh Times, she then delivers the 58-pound mat to a service station for recycling. “Either the attendants never heard of the drive,” the Times reports, “or they didn’t care whether the nation got the rubber as a means of whipping the Axis. . . .
“So the rubber was placed back in the box and carted across the street. There the fellows seemed to know what it was all about, and gladly accepted the rubber.
“Perhaps it is because of stations like the first that more rubber has not been turned in.”