I am old enough to remember when our family had no phone.
Reaching us by phone involved calling our neighbors on a party line, and the neighbors would have one of their children ride a bicycle the additional half-mile to our house to relay the message.
Phone calls for us were once a year or less.
I recall one time in the wee early hours of the morning, a call came for us at the neighbor's house.
The caller would not leave a message other than to say my mother had to return a call to him.
My father, mother and I dressed and went to the neighbor's house and made the return call. It involved a family member who needed assistance.
As the call was made, my mother asked the operator to give her the time and charges so we could pay the neighbor the cost for the long-distance call. Since it was a party line, all the nosy neighbors who happened to be awake at that time of night could listen in on the conversation.
So like today, whatever you said on the phone would be known to others. Private conversations on party lines could be all over the neighborhood quickly.