MCGREGOR, Texas — You know the telecommunications industry has come a long way here in Texas in fact it’s more than ten folded a few times. But we found a man west of Waco who’s really into his old school telephone tech so we took a visit to see his little museum out in the middle of McGregor.
Along a residential road in the rural community of McGregor sits the home of Moe Spradley. Now there’s not much that makes Moe’s home really stand out except for a sign that looks somewhat out of place. But if you decide to pull over a pick up the call to come here, you’ll get dialed into some digit history.
The number of phones in Moe’s massive collection will make you want to put your travels on hold while you browse the big boxes and really old ringers.
“I like to go back to the basics,” Moe said. “It’s something I enjoy.”
For 71 years, Moe has called McGregor home, the third generation of Spradley’s to be settled here. Like his father before him, Moe worked for the phone company. Moe’s 30 years of service is 10 years and one day less than his father Ed worked for Baby Bells. But as the dial went to digital, Moe figured it was time to hang it up.
“’Don’t you want to stay around for picture phones?’ I said, ‘Let me tell you something, I have a hard enough time making them sound good on the telephone, I sure can’t make them look good,’” Moe said.
That leave Moe more time to take care of his phone collection, a project that started when a family friend and fellow phone fixer named Frank Ross donated his equipment to the Spradleys so they could start a museum.
“He thought that this stuff ought to be put in a museum in a place to show because one day it’s going to be obsolete and he was absolutely right,” Moe said.
The collection came with the stipulation that Moe would run the business himself and never give it away or sell it in his lifetime. Moe agreed and since 1978, the phones and silently told their story. Telling stories to the generation that has never known what it’s like to have a hardwired line is his love.
“Takes them back, you know, they just can’t believe it,” Moe said.
A few of these phones date back to the 1800’s and some have unique, first of their kind capabilities.
“When your phone rings you put this rod in here,” Moe explained. “If you left the house, went somewhere and come back, and while you was gone it rang you can watch that thing fall right there. So you come in and look and see ‘Well someone gave me a call while I was gone. Just pick it up and call the operator and say, ‘Who called me.’ And like I said, if anyone in town knew what was going on she did.”
Never has the sound of a ringing phone been music to mans ears, that’s until we meet Moe Spradley. As long has he can pick up, he’ll continue to tell the story of the simple phone just to get through to those who have never had to ask for the operator. Just don’t ask him to send you a text.
“If you call me I’ll get back around to calling you,” Moe said.