World War II had just ended when Tommy Charles Smith decided to start
his career in the telephone business. He purchased the Leslie-DeSoto
Telephone Company, an independent company with approximately ninety-nine
telephone stations. Tommy was the only outside plant employee of the
Company, as well as the owner and manager. After building up broken-down
pole lines and approximately 150 stations, he converted the exchange to
dial operation in March 1951. That same year he purchased the Plains
Telephone Company in Plains, Georgia, a tiny little unknown town in
Southwest Georgia which would become in later years one of the most
famous towns in history.
Tommy Smith incorporated and became Citizens Telephone Company, Inc.,
in 1957. Also that same year, a new telephone exchange was under
development at Lake Blackshear. In 1959 the new telephone system was
completed and switched on to approximately 100 Lake Blackshear residents
and businesses. Many subscribers were on eight party service. By now,
Citizens Telephone Company employed ten people.
In 1959, Tommy purchased the Vienna Telephone Company in Vienna,
Georgia, the largest of the four exchanges. Citizens Telephone Company
now had a total of four rural exchanges and approximately 2,000 phones.
All phones in all exchanges were dial service.