Ona  Engle

The  Shelbyville  Republican
Monday July 21, 1947
Page 3 column 3
            Ona Engle, chief operator in charge of traffic at the local Bell Telephone office, would much rather talk about the "grand bunch of girls" working under her direction than herself. In discussing her work her conversation invariably veers back with words of praise for the 70 women who sing out the familiar "Number Please" at the switchboards each day and the seven service assistants, the clerk and the night operator, Ellen Hungate.
            Miss Engle has been chief operator at the local plant since 1935 and her smiling face and natural "voice with a smile" that does credit to the company’s slogan may have much to do with the traffic departments spirit and co-operation and congeniality of which she is so proud.
            Wearing a 30-year pin, she tells you that her telephone career began as a switchboard operator in Greensburg back in 1917.  This was only a part-time day job, however, and at that time she had no idea that she would "grow up" with the business.  Her main love then was music and after working at the switch board during the day she spent her evenings playing the piano at a motion picture theater.  About that time too, she was playing the accordion-piano with a six-piece orchestra that filled many engagements at various spots over the state.  She recalls that they played numerous times at the Golden Glow, then a favorite recreation and meeting place for organizations on West Hendricks Street. 
After coming here she found there were too many things to do in connection with her work, so she sold her musical equipment.  Now her main recreational interests are sports - with baseball and basketball high on the list.  She’s such an avid follower of the latter sport that she was without her voice for two days following the state tournament!
            Not too long after she began working as a switchboard operator in Greensburg, she was made clerk and this was followed with a promotion to chief operator in 1927.  She continued in that position at Greensburg until coming to this city in 1935.  Although she doesn’t work on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays, the first five days of the week find her on duty from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and she is on call 24 hours a day.
            Looking out for general working welfare of the traffic department is her main concern.  And in this respect she has accomplished a lot.  The department has as many homey touches as possible.  There is a large airy lounge where the workers go for their off-duty rest periods and there is a clean and neat snack bar, complete with refrigerator and electric hot plate where sandwiches, pie, etc. are served by  Mrs. Elmer Worland, who serves as matron.  The room where the "hello girls" are stationed and where Miss Engle’s desk is located is a pleasant room where an atmosphere of quiet prevails despite clicking of the key boards and the continual drone of questioning operators is heard.
            Asked about specific incidents in her career, Miss Engle again talks about the work done by the operators.  She maintains that although she is in charge, it’s really the girls who are to be commended in cases of emergencies.  She spoke of such instances as the flood of 1937, the 1941 tornado, former National Guard emergency calls and the storm of last week-end as the times when "things are really a madhouse around here."  It is then that the countenance of Miss Engle takes on a harried look as she goes about the rushing business of keeping things running smoothly so that innumerable questions of the general public be answered as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Contributed by Barb Huff

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