John S. Barrett was a truck driver by trade according to his son, Dick Barrett. Dick reported that his father at one time had about 300 telephones. He collected mostly wood wall telephones but also had other varieties. Mr. Barrett stated that his father kept most of his collection in the basement of their home.
He said that his dad once searched out and found Mrs. Augustus Monson, wife of Augustus Alvin Monson to see if she had any telephones for sale from her husband. He said that Mrs. Monson wouldn’t even talk to him at the door. She was a hoarder and apparently still lived in the same dilapidated home. As she closed the door on him, Mr. Barrett noticed that her screen door was broken and falling apart.
He said his father went to his truck and pulled out a hammer and some tools and walked back up to the door and began fixing her screen door. Mrs. Monson reportedly came back to the door and started talking with him. Apparently happy that he was fixing her screen door, she engaged him in conversation and asked what he was looking for. He asked her if she had anything for sale and she said she had something under her bed.
She took him inside and showed him four of the Monson 100 button telephones that Mr. Monson had invented. Mr. Barrett noticed that two of them didn’t have any mouthpieces on them. He asked her if she had the other two mouthpieces and Mrs. Monson produced a photograph of Mr. Monson’s grave and told him that those two mouthpieces were attached to his gravestone.
Mr. Barrett was able to buy the four phones from her. From information in the ATCA Historical Fact Sheets, Mr. Monson only made 60 units of his 100 button phone. Only twelve of them remain in existence to date. Mr. Barrett also held two patents in his name for parts he designed for working on big rig trucks.
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