April 18, 1883

On April 18, 1883 William Henderson, on behalf of the Chaffey Brothers, wrote a letter to E. F. Spence, the president of the Los Angeles Telephone Company. In the letter William Henderson expresses his displeasure regarding the telephone connections between San Bernardino, Colton, and Riverside. Apparently the Los Angeles Telephone Company is responsible for these telephone lines and they are inadequate. William Henderson claims that the “modern improvement has proved an aggravation rather than a convenience.” In fact, according to William Henderson, the time it takes to finally make a telephone call between San Bernardino and Riverside is actually longer than the time it takes to physically travel between these two cities. I will let you decide whether this is hyperbole in a pre-automotive age. The letter is steeped in disdain that verges on outright rudeness and it reminds me of “ye olde” customer service complaint. Towards the end of the letter, William Henderson claims that the telephone line is “the cause of more profanity than would sink a ship.” Unfortunately, I have found no record of what E. F. Spence’s response was to this letter. I can only imagine what he thought when he read the letter almost 150 years ago!