On OUR party line, you cranked the handle for the rings. Ours was two longs and a short ring.
One did pick up the the handset to see if anyone else was using the line at the time.
One learned to only say on the phone what one assumed that everyone in the neighborhood would know about within minutes.
There were times that I felt like I was talking to my Mom in code when I called her! Actually, we WERE talking in code!
Remember "rubberneckers"? They were the people that listened to other people's conversations?
And there were real "operators" that transferred calls on a switchboard?