Ethel Murphy, 78, has lived on the Pleasureville Hill, and Red Lion before that, for most of her adult life.

That's a lot of years.

And for most of those years -- she says at least 50 -- she called 845-3531 when she wanted to know the time and/or temperature. And she wasn't the only one. Murphy says "a lot of my friends called time and temperature, too, a couple times a day."

That was the telephone company's time and temperature line -- GTE first, and more recently, Verizon.

But no more. On Wednesday, Oct. 1, Verizon terminated the service.

Which pretty much threw a bunch of York countians into a frenzy. First of all, there was no advance notice. And second of all, the time and temperature line was important to their existence.

Me? I never called time and temperature. If I wanted to know what time it was, I'd look at a clock. If I wanted to know the weather, I'd look out the window. If I wanted to know how cold it was, I'd step outside my back door for a few seconds. It works for me.

But lots of folks -- and I mean lots of folks -- depended on Verizon's time and temperature line to keep all the stars aligned in their day.

"I hated to see it go," Murphy said. "I really depended on it. And now I have to stay up until 11 at night to get the time and temperature on the TV news."

To say Murphy was put out about the discontinuation of the time and temperature line would be putting it mildly.

Same goes for her friends, neighbors and relatives, she said.


"We all used the service when we wanted to know the time or temperature. It's how we always did it."

Now that's changed. And change goes over pretty hard with some folks.

For its part, Verizon says the termination of the service was only a matter of time -- new technology makes time and temperature information available 24 hours a day through any number of sources.

In the old days, you needed to own a watch or a clock and listen to the radio. It was that or you tried to tell time by the location of the sun. Sundials worked, too. As for the temperature, you just took your best guess or relied on the thermometer hanging from the kitchen window, which was inaccurate more times than not.

The telephone company time and temperature line was a true blessing for many people.

But like a lot of things -- horse and buggies, 8-track stereos and stone wheels come quickly to mind -- it has been made obsolete by high-tech electronics and expanded TV channels.

Today, we have the weather channel -- No. 52 on my TV. We have cell phones, computers and the Internet.

I can learn the time in an instant from any room in the house, and I'm only one finger flick away from the latest TV weather reports 24 hours a day.

But that doesn't cut it with Murphy and her friends.

With a lot of them, it became a habit after 40 or 50 years. And habits of that duration are darned hard to break.

"I miss it. I really do," she said. "I wish someone else (another sponsor) would get it going for us again."

Well, as luck would have it, there is another time and temperature line located right here in York County. It's not well known and certainly not well advertised in Verizon's phone book, but it does exist.

Grace Lefever's Sonnewald Natural Foods at 4796 Lehman Road in North Codorus Township, offers a time and temperature service for anyone calling 767-1000.

I called. It works.

In fact, the Weatherline Forecast Service, offered in cooperation with WHP-580 Newstalk Radio, provides an expanded weather forecast. It even tells you the day of the week. That means York countians don't even have to look at a calendar anymore.

So Murphy got her wish. And she couldn't be more pleased.

Just goes to show you, improved technology doesn't necessarily have to kill everything in its path.

And some stories do have a happy ending.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: