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Mid Spring, East Texas Nowhere Town, very early 90's...

It was a cooooold spring day. Texas cold sucks. We can barely pronounce "mittens" and still be understood. Me and my friend "N" had been goofing around scanning the unfamiliar and unworthy parts of the dog shit 903 area code we lived in. He was new to these parts, originally from 713, but I had been stuck here all my life. We were pretty prominent on the local BBS scene; a fairly common pair of names in many of the programming/gaming circles.

We started out with simple anonymous BBS user punting and FIDO re-routing, but after about a year of being assholes there, we started our POTS network stunts. Reds, blues, brown, purple… Hell, I can't even remember how many boxes we built. Even worse is that I was beginning a sojourn into the heavier chemicals available to a 17 year old at the time, so 90% of what I remember about this period in time has characters from "Bambi" strung about the scene.

After about 3 months of shutting down the registers at the local grocery store every Friday during rush hour, it was time to push our luck a little. I lived on the outskirts of the city, and the contractors had never quite finished the project, apparently due to bankruptcy or something. This was great news to people looking for secluded phone trunks in the middle of the woods. Finished demarc boxes and houses laden the area around my house, so flagging an extra line was going to be a snap on our PC side. It doesn't take much to figure out where this goes from here.

We scouted during the day. The pavement to the trunk was barricaded a good mile away. The dirt roads leading to it were seldom traveled, made of clay, and very difficult to drive on without LARGE tires and a 4x4. The trunk was a gigantic green box with a GTE logo discretely labeling the standard precautionary statements concerning hicks and large metal tools. So, that evening it was decided that the operation would have to be quick and in the middle of the night. Finding a POTS line we could leech from/to would be the longest part. At that point in my life I had only read about this type of thing, and my buddy had working knowledge of 713 stuff.

The rest of the day was spent assembling a switching box and testing it, I forget what plans/color we used. It was a simple redirect, four in, two out.

We set out at about midnight, and marched a good mile to get to the neighborhood demarc outlet. It was open, and a vacant house lot with wiring was grounded out. That made the whole operation simple enough. Then it was another mile to the trunk site. I was tired by this time. I was skinny, outta shape, and high. When we finally arrived we noticed how well GTE had done their job. This trunk was enormous, with one big green door, and locked with a tool that we definitely didn't have. But after about an hour with pliers and a few rounded sockets, we were in.

It wasn't too bad, but I actually had brought a can of green spray paint with me to cover the marring in the daylight. We were in the middle of the woods, in BFE, and all 3-4 people who had ever seen this thing in the last 20 years prolly wouldn't give a shit anyway.

Once we were inside the trunk, the rest was pretty easy. The blocks were labeled and the pairs cleanly laid. The contractors had done their job. A test light quickly found our grounded line, and we were in business. We took two live lines down the road a bit and proceeded to run them to the inside of a small black plastic soap container. The out pair went to our line, and two sided tape and nylon ties went in.

The first GTE person that saw it was gonna know, but fuck it.

Then it happed. Right behind the box was a big paved hill that dead ended into rocks and clay/pine oblivion. Perpendicular to that, and pointed right at us, was the end of one of the dirt roads. Over this dirt road came the very ugly sound of a truck, and it was coming fast. I was the first to notice, basically standing around with my dick in the sand. As the lights became obvious, I grabbed N by the coat and bolted for the woods. All tools left behind, box wide open. I managed to nearly blind myself almost immediately into the sprint. A large pine limb cloths-lined me in the face. Holding my right eye and running as best I could, I managed about a 1/2 mile before I stopped to wait for N. I might have been out of shape, but I was definitely in better shape than he was. He finally managed to top a hill and come crashing down, half covered in mud and wheezing.

The tools were all gone, but I had thoughtfully kept my backpack full of docs and a 6 pack beer. We then proceeded to take a frothy Keystone Dry out and sit down and try to wonder what to do next. It would have been extremely hard to follow us without a manhunt of sorts, and we were counting on that not happening. About an hour and several beers passed by. After hearing nothing at all after the run, and really not liking the blindness ensuing my right eye, we decided find out what gives at the trunk. We slowly stumble through the woods another hour to the site. As we got closer up the hill that the box was on, there was definitely no noise coming from the site. As we got closer, it was clear there wasn't anyone obviously waiting for us. As we got up to it, we found our tools strewn in the direction of our leaps, the door wide open, our box merrily in it's place. I guess late night 4 Wheelin' in East Texas is a big hoot. The door was quickly closed, pseduo-locked, and sprayed. The tools were packed and off we went, much more quickly than was necessary.

Once back at the neighborhood, it was standard Hell raising. A few tests of two independent switchable lines, a conference call, re-routing, and drop off were made in minutes. We had the tool of our POTS dreams. ANI was our only fear, so we pretty much had agreed to play it cool. For the next 5 months, we had a blast making the local merchants go through electronic Hell. "If they had a lame dialup it's their fault", was our general opinion. I can't tell you how many similar systems fast food, major grocery chains, and general transportation uses. All we had to do was drag about 200' of line to a demarc box, and my bedroom was a stage for the SCO pranksters paradise. Not a day went by that something didn't get laughed at, and someone not scream at their console at a certain pizza franchise.

Unfortunately, N and I soon left for college. I've been back there only once since I moved. The area is still undeveloped, and very backwater. I'm sure they've been there once or twice in the many years, but it would be nice to get some pictures of where some early skills came into use. It's unfortunate that in college my interests quickly changed from computers and fun to booze, girls, music, etc. But hey, I got my action back in those days too.

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