DOWN in Texas they have a railroad with a motto. The
Texas and Pacific, which covers the Lone Star State from
end to end and adds a few hundred miles of Louisiana for
good measure, believes that it is "No trouble to
answer questions." Many years ago, before the
"Tee-Pee" had gained fame with the public and
favor with the Goulds as one of their best assets, the
president of the road happened to stop off one day at a
little Louisiana town to send a telegram. Railroad
presidents in those days were not troubled with private
secretaries, so the president strode into the little
telegraph-ticket office to write his own telegram. On
asking for a blank he was agreeably surprised at the
courtesy accorded him, although it was his first visit
and he had reason to believe that the young man behind
the ticket window had never seen him before and did not
know who he was.
It was not a day to bring cheerfulness, for the
weather was as muggy and sticky as only Louisiana weather
can get. The operator radiated sunshine, however, and the
president liked it. Over the ticket window he noticed a
sign that read, "No Trouble to Answer
Questions." A series of interrogations developed
that the motto was not an empty one, and the president
noted with pleasure that the sunshine on the
telegrapher's face never faded. He also learned that the
motto was original with the youthful dispenser of good
cheer and tickets.
Soon there was a place a little higher up for the boy.
Step by step, under the eye of the appreciative
president, he forged ahead and year by year the policy,
"No trouble to answer questions," permeated the
big railroad system. For many years E. P. Turner, the
one-time cheerful operator at the Louisiana way station,
has been general passenger and ticket agent of the Texas
and Pacific, and the policy is in evidence at every
station between El Paso and New Orleans. There is perhaps
no railroad in the United States where simple courtesy
and plenty of it has worked greater wonders. So famous is
the watchword that a letter mailed in New York addressed
to "No Trouble to Answer Questions, Texas,"
would reach Mr. Turner's office in Dallas and receive a
courteous reply without so much as an hour's delay.
Texas has another ex-telegrapher general passenger
agent in Cyrus W. Strain of the 'Frisco at Fort Worth.
Like Mr. Turner, Mr. Strain began his career in a little
telegraph office. Following the same policy and giving
off the same sunny radiation, Mr. Strain advanced,
division by division, until his recent appointment at the
top rung of the 'Frisco passenger ladder in Texas.
All Other Press Matter
Sidetracked While a Country Telegrapher Struggles With
His Microscopic Copy.
JULIAN HAWTHORNE'S "copy"
is the terror of rural telegraphers as much as it is the
delight of the printer. The difference is that the
telegrapher gets the raw "copy" as the author
has written it, and has to get rid of it in a hurry,
while the printer gets his in type-written form. Mr.
Hawthorne writes slowly and carefully and "grinds
exceeding small." On a country assignment in New
Jersey recently he "scooped " his competitors
innocently but nevertheless thoroughly by filing his
story of a tragedy a moment in advance of them. it was a
lonely telegraph station where the operator had not sent
a hundred words of "press " in tbe twenty years
that the office had been established.
Hawthorne filed three thousand words for his paper,
and made an everlasting friend of the operator by laying
down a dozen "high-bred" smokes. The operator
was paralyzed at the outlook, but he struck out. In a
very short time five or six New York reporters
interrupted him with ten times the "copy" that
Hawthorne had filed. He took it in, but stuck manfully at
Hawthorne's story. It was going into New York with the
speed of molasses in the dead of winter, and the other
reporters glared through the window or fretted and
pranced up and down the depot platform for three long
hours. The operator was still struggling with Hawthorne's
copy. Then they demanded a return of their stories and
sought the long-distance telephone.
Hawthorne's story was printed in full next day, but
the remainder of the New York papers had only a sparse
account of one of the most mystifying tragedies of the
BEATEN BY MUSIC.
A New York Operator Confused by
"Dixie" While His Southern Opponent Clicks His
Way to Victory.
JOSEPH P. GALLAGHER is one of a
galaxy of " star" telegraphers employed in the
New York office of the Postal Telegraph Company.
Gallagher is such a good receiver of telegraphic messages
that he was sent to Philadelphia by his admiring friends
in 1903 and returned triumphant with the "Message
Championship of the World" dangling at his belt. In
the following year he lost his honors unexpectedly, and
he is wondering yet how it occurred. The man who beat him
was equally surprised. It all came about through the
Madison Square Garden band striking up "Dixie"
just as the contest for the championship began and
keeping at the stirring air until Gallagher had lost his
bearings, while his opponent, a Southerner, had taken the
bit in his teeth and was working as no other inspiration
could have forced him to work.
Some telegraphers are so affected by music that they
cannot work while its strains reach their ears.
Gallagher, although he did not know his failing - and his
victorious opponent knew less - seems to have been beaten
because he could not collect his thoughts and find the
proper keys on his typewriter, through the strange effect
of the music on his system. He went into the contest
confident of victory because the man from the South did
not possess a reputation in that particular line of work
and had been beaten by Gallagher at the same game in
Philadelphia. He came out whipped and dejected - all
through the accidental rendering of the Southern popular
air, which stirred the Southerner's blood to an
Telegraphers are usually high-strung nervous fellows
on whom a discordant sound exerts an instant effect. This
is caused, no doubt, by the musical rhythm which comes
naturally to those of them who attain high proficiency in
the making and taking of Morse characters - determining
to a nicety just what length to make their dots and
dashes and how to properly space their words.
A story in the Telegraph Age of a press
operator in Virginia who could work under any conditions
excepting while some one whistled illustrates the truth
of the above. The operator was working mechanically,
receiving market reports and the news of the day, when
one of a group of chatting reporters in the reportorial
room, which was also the telegraph room, started to
whistle "Always in the Way." The operator
fidgeted in his chair, and, finally, leaning over to the
key, opened it and stopped proceedings. "I'm afraid
I'll have to ask you to stop whistling," he said
gently to the offending reporter. "You know it's
awfully hard to take this stuff from the wire so long as
there is any whistling going on." The reporters
wondered, and when there was a "let-up" on the
wire shortly afterward, the operator explained:
"It's a strange thing about telegraphy," he
said, "but an operator with an ear for music cannot
receive as long as any music strikes his ears. It drives
the meaning of the dots and dashes entirely away, and
they become a meaningless jumble of sounds. Cannon may be
roaring beneath the window, and he will not mind it in
the least, so long as he can hear the instrument
clicking. Talking may go on as much as you please, and so
long as it is not addressed to me it will not bother me
in the least. There might be a big political parade under
my window. Thousands of voices might be raised in shouts
of applause for a favorite candidate. I would hardly hear
it. Then let a small boy in the next room start to
whistle and it's all off. The political parade may
continue on its way undisturbed, but the small boy who
whistles is demoralizing.
"I was working in St. Louis once," the
operator continued, as his wire was still idle,
"when our office was situated right in the midst of
a convention at which a band was playing about two-thirds
of the time. We had to move our office. The men couldn't
stand it. The music was played by one of the best bands
in the country, but that only made it all the worse. If
the music had been bad, it would have approached more
nearly ordinary noise and would not have bothered us so
much. But the better the music the greater the
distraction." The instrument started just then, and
at the same time a band opened up in the street below.
The operator, with an appealing glance at the group of
reporters, threw up his hands in mock despair and hastily
closed all the windows in the room. It's the only thing I
can do," he said, resignedly. He couldn't stop the
TELEPHONE A TOY.
American Rights of the
for a Petty Five Thousand Dollars a Year and Declined.
AT the time when Alexander Graham Bell made his first
demonstration with the telephone an operator in the New
York office of the Western Union Telegraph Company
received a paper from his father, a minister in
Brantford, Canada, stating that a man named Bell had
transmitted speech by wire between Brantford and a
neighboring town. It seemed incredible, but the
telegrapher called attention to the fact that his father
was a godly man. and had said in an accompanying letter
that he had heard the thing done with his own ears. The
newspaper announcement made no impression on the public,
however, and a year or more afterward when Professor Bell
came to New York to demonstrate that he could telephone
from that city to Brooklyn, not more than a dozen out of
a hundred invited guests appeared at the St. Denis Hotel
to witness the experiment.
One of the dozen, who was himself afterward a great
inventor, was unanimous with his fellow witnesses, when
the experiment had been concluded, that the telephone was
a toy, if not an absolute humbug. Professor Bell met with
many discouragements, but obstinately pursued his
experiments and made sufficient improvements in his
apparatus to have a proposition for the adoption of his
invention by the American District Company seriously
considered. He wanted about five thousand dollars per
annum for the exclusive use of his American rights. This
was soberly considered and declined by the board of
THE PATIENT WIZARD.
What Thomas Edison Thinks of
the "Rot" That is Printed
about the "Wizard of Menlo Park."
THOMAS EDISON is having some fun
poked at him by jocular newspaper writers these days over
his failure to perfect the storage battery in a given
time. In 1876 Edison was crossing the Jersey City ferry
with Walter Phillips, when he turned to the latter and
asked him if he had read a recent paragraph in the Commercial
Advertiser to the effect that the Brooklyn Bridge
would be in working order about the time that Edison
succeeded in subdividing the electric current, which at
that particular time was considered equivalent to an
Phillips replied that he had not, when Edison
continued: "That is one of the smart things that
these fellows write, and I think Amos Cummings in the Sun
and Ned Fox in the Herald are responsible for
it. They have been printing a lot of rot about the wizard
of Menlo Park, and people are stimulated by that sort of
thing to expect everything in a minute. One of them - Fox
I think - says I am a genius; but you know well enough I
am nothing of the sort, unless," he added,
thoughtfully, "we accept D'Israeli's theory that
genius is prolonged patience. I am patient enough, for
sure. As for the electric light, I've been neglecting it
for a lot of other things - my telephone, the phonograph,
and so forth, but," he added confidently, "I'll
subdivide the electric current when I get around to it,
never fear. You wait and see." The world waited, and
it saw the fulfilment of the Wizard's prediction. Perhaps
history will repeat itself with the storage battery.
Tip McCloskey Guesses at a
and Makes a Relative of Henry Clay Daniel Webster's
VARIOUS wonderful deeds of "copying behind"
have been attributed to Thomas Edison, dubbed by Andrew
Carnegie, who is himself an old-time telegrapher, as the
"King of Telegraphers; to "Old Bogardus,"
"Tip McCloskey" and other lights of the
"olden days," until even the incredulous ones
have begun to wonder if they really did perform such
feats. John Oakum tells how McCloskey, on a wager in
Atlanta, Georgia, once walked from his instrument to the
door of his office where he met a boy from a neighboring
restaurant with a gin sour on a waiter, drank the
"medicine," and returned to his key without
interrupting the wire. However, the Atlanta paper had an
editorial paragraph two days later which said: "Our
article of yesterday on the indiscretions of J. C. Lamont
would have been characterized by less spirit had we known
him to be a relative of the late Henry Clay. The
Associated Press despatch, on which our article was
based, stated distinctly that Lamont was a nephew of old
Dan Webster of Massachusetts." The other operators
along the line had it "Henry Clay" but
McCloskey was "copying behind" and filled in
"Daniel Webster" with a nonchalant air that
made his admiring audience believe that he was delivering
the real article.
McCloskey is credited with having worked a wire in New
York during 1863 that was so hot it sizzled, yet he was a
sleepy fellow through an inordinate appetite for dramatic
performances at the Bowery Theater and a thirst that was
second to none. So, whenever there should happen to be a
moment's let-up during his night's work, McCloskey would
lay his head on the table for a nap. The office-boys, who
looked upon him as a sort of demigod, manifested their
interest in his welfare by always being on the alert for
calls. They became proficient enough to recognize
"NY" when the Pittsburgh office called, and
would then arouse the slumbering operator. He would open
the key, stare about sleepily for a moment and then
lazily request his friend at Pittsburgh to "let 'em
come, and hustle up a bit." Then, to the admiration
of all about, he would sit and copy message after message
in a flowing chirography, often carrying on a lively
conversation with his companions at the same time.
"But there were bigoted citizens in New York who
conspired against him," remarks Mr. Oskum. "A
Dr. Janvier received a message from his wife stating that
'Mr. Sage has caved and is satisfied!'" Mr. Oakum
maintains that under the circumstances Mr. Sage at least
should have been satisfied. Not so with Dr. Janvier. He
demanded a repetition, and the corrected copy which was
taken by McCloskey, who was now attending closely to
business, told Dr. Janvier:
"Message received and is satisfactory."
The occasion of the memorable Army of the Republic
celebration in Boston In 1868 found McCloskey a night
operator at Titusville, Pennsylvania. It was on that
night that he demonstrated to a coterie of friends the
feasibility of reciting "Casablanca" and
receiving "press" simultaneously. The next
morning a Boston paper announced in its telegraphic
columns that "Post No. 1 was commanded by an
Irishman from New Bedford." The New Bedford Standard
hastened, a day or two later, to copy the despatch and
explain that Post No. 1 was really commanded by A. N.
Cushman from New Bedford. It added, moreover, that Mr.
Cushman was less a Milesian than was the telegraph.
WIRES NEED HOLIDAYS.
Old Operators Dread Saturday
Nights in Busy Offices
Because Wires are Tired and Need Their Sunday Rest.
IT was 2:30 A.M., and the wire running into the New
York American office had been humming without a
let-up since six o'clock on the preceding evening with
details of the explosion on the United States steamer
Bennington in San Francisco Harbor; with baseball scores,
market reports, and general news of the day.
"She 'pulled' mighty hard on that last half
hour," remarked the old telegrapher to the night
editor, who was putting away his shears and the blue
"What do you mean by 'pulled?' inquired the
editor, who was a newcomer serving his first night in the
"I mean that the wire was tired and it was hard
work to send that last 3,000 words."
The editor laughed superciliously. "Guess it's in
your arm," said he. "Must be losing your
The telegrapher smiled back, rather commiseratingly.
"I've been in the business twenty years," said
he, "and I have been observing. I can tell a tired
wire the moment I put my hand on the key, and many a
night I have asked for a new wire when the telegraph
sleuths could not detect a sign of trouble. You feel it
pull your wrist as if it were bound with a rope having a
tug of war on the other end. Monday morning, after the
wires have had a few hours' rest over Sunday, they
respond quickly and are easy to work. On Saturday nights
I always dread the last hour because the wire is
The young editor inquired if the telegrapher did not
think it was the operator that needed the rest not the
"Not a bit of it. Put a rested sender down to
this wire right now and he would not be able to do much
business, no matter how great his ability. It would work
him half to death within an hour. Give him a rested wire
and the story would be entirely different." As the
news was all in and the paper gone to press the editor
gave permission to flash the good night signal
"30" and the tired wire and the tired
telegrapher took their Sunday rest.
It is well known that locomotives get tired, that
typewriters work easier after a rest, and that clocks get
too run down to tick. It is even said that guns get too
tired to shoot straight, but that telegraph wires grow
weary at the close of a busy day will be news even to
Tells an Operator That He Would
Have Given a Thousand Dollars
if He Had Learned Telegraphy.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN once stated to
Jesse H. Eunuch, who was then military telegrapher to
General George B. McClellan in Washington, that he would
give a thousand dollars had he learned telegraphy when a
boy. Mr. Lincoln used to talk to young Bunnell on matters
of state, as will be seen by an excerpt from a letter
written by a member of the military corps stationed at
Washington to another in New York during the war, dated
Washington, District of Columbia, December 14, 1861, and
addressed "Dear Jack." The letter follows:
"Washington is a sight. I don't wonder Mr.
Lincoln said one could not throw a stone down
Pennsylvania Avenue without hitting a brigadier-general.
The town is full of them and the Army of the Potomac is
stalled at Alexandria. McClellan is here and does
business by telegraph. He has for an operator one of the
handsomest young men I ever saw - Jesse Bunnell. He and
Mr. Lincoln are very chummy. Jesse is considerably under
twenty years of age, but the President talks to him in a
way that is very funny. Jesse says he should feel
complimented, but he realizes that the President is
simply thinking aloud.
"It is one of the best possible tributes to the
telegraph that it interests the very best minds. Up in
Amherst some of the ginger-pop professors used to sniff a
little at my enthusiasm about telegraphy. They regard it
as a trade, and not just the thing for a college man. Now
comes Abraham Lincoln, the foremost of all living men
to-day, throws his long leg across the table where
Bunnell is receiving despatches, stays around until long
after midnight, looks over Jesse's shoulder and says:
'Young man, I would give a thousand dollars if I had
learned to do that when I was young. The ability to read
those signals is a never-ending mystery to me.
"Continuing his inmost thoughts, the President
would say: 'And, Jesse, McClellan says he needs more men.
What do you think? He has quite a few down there at
Alexandria, and he seems inclined to keep them there
until spring. Secretary Cameron is growing weary of
running a war, and we are going to accept his resignation
and put in a more active fellow. I have my eyes on one
now. But, Jesse, he may be too active. The happy medium
is a mighty hard thing to strike. Don't you find it that
way in your own business ? Some of the boys send too fast
and some too slow, and some just right eh ? Well, that is
just what is needed in the War Department, a man who can
send just right; take a gait and keep it.
"It is with men as with horses; some of them are
great at a spurt, but not many are all wool and a yard
wide at a pull. The new Secretary of War must be as good
at a pull as he is at a spurt, or this war will hang
along until everybody will be worn out. Well, Jesse, we
are going to do something pretty soon - along in February
we will begin moving. I guess McClellan doesn't need any
more men to hold Alexandria with - no, indeed.'"
EDISON AND GOULD.
Wizard of Finance Thinks Three
and Buys Quadruplex Patent From the Wizard of
PRESIDENT ORTON, who was at the head
of the Western Union Telegraph Company when Edison
invented the quadruplex, was slow in reaching a decision
about purchasing the patent. A few blocks down the street
from the Western Union office was the office of an
unobtrusive-looking person who in his life-time used to
stray up and down Broadway without one in a thousand
recognizing him or dreaming who he was. He was Jay Gould,
then largely interested in the Atlantic & Pacific
Telegraph Company. Gould had heard considerable about the
practical value of Edison's invention from his managers,
and possessed a keen eye of his own. He had made up his
mind to buy the quadruplex. One day when Edison needed
money and was urging the Western Union Company without
making any progress, he met Gould on the street and the
"Tom, those fellows will never do any business
with you. Why not sell the quadruplex to me ? I'll buy
it, subject to all litigation."
"What'll you pay for it?"
"Well," said the financier, fumbling in his
vest pocket "I have here a check that was given me
an hour ago by Jarrett & Palmer, to whom I have sold
the steamer Plymouth Rock. It is for thirty thousand
dollars. I'll give you that."
The offer was promptly accepted and the pair dropped
into the nearest place where pen and ink were available
and Gould endorsed the check to Edison. Only the
amalgamation of the telegraph companies put an end to the
litigation which ensued.
MORSE THE "CRANK."
Senate Gets Rid of the Inventor
of the Telegraph
by Giving Him What He Wants.
PROFESSOR S. F. B. MORSE is said to
have been the first man to whom the appellation
"crank" was applied. The professor was in
Washington before Congress with his paraphernalia, asking
an appropriation of seventeen thousand dollars with which
to build an experimental line from the capital city to
Baltimore. He ran wires in and about the capitol and
established a "generator" which was operated by
a crank. Senators and Congressmen became so absorbed in
the invention that they neglected their other duties to
such an extent as to arouse the ire of Senator Benton.
After a vain attempt to obtain a quorum, the latter arose
in the Senate and said:
"Mr. President, it is quite evident to my mind
that we cannot proceed with business until this crank man
and his bill are disposed of, and, with the object of
making him fold up his crank and get away so we may have
the attention of Senators, I move that the bill to
construct a line between this city and Baltimore be
passed." The bill was passed, but from that day the
inventor was called "Morse, the crank."
ENGLISH AS IT IS WIRED.
Cable Tells of Dynamite Found
in a "Gladstone" Bag
and Colonial Editor Attacks the "Grand Old
TELEGRAPH brevity traps have caused many gray hairs to
sprout in the heads of editors. Usually it is some
telegraphic combination of letters or words that causes
the trouble, but not infrequently it is due to bad
A provincial English journal received a despatch
stating that "The Zulus have taken umbrage."
Forthwith a card was printed and placed in front of the
office announcing the "Capture of Umbrage by the
H. Savage Lander, the explorer, re turned to London a
few years ago after wandering about in Tibet in an
endeavor to reach Lhassa. An account of his experiences
was telegraphed to the colonial journals, but none of
them had ever heard of Mr. Lander, and the result was
that the following announcement was printed: "A
savage lander has attempted to get to Lhassa, the result
being that the beast was horribly mutilated."
A telegram was sent from London to the papers in New
Zealand about the time of the dynamite scares, which read
as follows: "Dynamite found in Gladstone bag,
Ludgate Hill Station." One of the sub-editors who
received this message had no doubt about its meaning, and
consequently the next morning the following announcement
appeared in the paper: A quantity of dynamite was found
yesterday in Mr. Gladstone's bag at the Ludgate Hill
Station." Furthermore, the editor wrote a leading
article on the occurrence, in which he said: "While
we have, as our readers know, no kind of sympathy with
Mr. Gladstone's politics, we cannot too strongly condemn
the authors of this dastardly outrage upon a deservedly
respected public servant."
One would have imagined that this version exhausted
the possible misinterpretations which it was possible to
put upon the simple statement that some dynamite had been
found in a stray bag or portmanteau, but an opposition
paper contained the following observations on the same
"We direct the attention of our readers to the
sensational cablegram we publish from London. The
complicity of Mr. Gladstone with the Irish dynamiters, of
which we were always convinced, has now been proved
beyond all doubt. We await, with an impatience which we
are sure is shared by all our readers, further
information of the affair from London. Thank Heaven, we
say, that the efforts of this unscrupulous statesman to
dismember the British Empire have brought him to a
FIRST AT THE WIRE.
Clever Trick by Which Chris.
Fitzgerald Scored a Beat
in Reporting the Sullivan- Kurain Fight at New Orleans.
CHRIS. J. FITZGERALD, general manager
of the Brighton Beach Racing Association and one of the
best known turf officials in the country, was a reporter
on the New York Sun, when John L. Sullivan
whipped Jake Kurain at Richburg, Mississippi, years ago.
There were perhaps a hundred reporters sent South to
"do" the fight, among them Fitzgerald.
One of the New York newspapers had sent as their
leading representative an old telegrapher in charge of
five reporters and five miles of wire which was intended
for stringing from the railroad to the ring-side when the
battle-ground should be located. The old telegrapher
arranged with Frank Stevenson, a newspaper man long since
dead, to give him early information as to the location,
and hung determinedly at his heels awaiting the word.
Arriving at New Orleans, Fitzgerald, who had overheard
the negotiations with Stevenson, which, although they
were perfectly fair, would give the man with the five
miles of wire a decided advantage, approached the Western
Union management and suggested that, as a matter of
fairness to all, no despatches about the fight should be
accepted at any point save at the main office in New
Orleans. This shut out the man with five miles of wire,
and put all the reporters on an even basis.
Fitzgerald then hustled about and found the late
Robert Garrett, who was in direct charge of the Southern
Railway at New Orleans at that time, and offered him a
thousand dollars for a special engine and car to take him
to the scene of the battle. The offer was refused.
Fitzgerald then arranged with one of his assistants to
have a horse and wagon stationed at a point of the
"Crescent" for which New Orleans is named, and
wait there until the fight should be over and the trains
returning to the city.
The railroad describes a wide circle from the point of
the Crescent before reaching the New Orleans station, and
it is possible for a fleet horse to get across the city
considerably ahead of a train. After Sullivan had won,
the reporters boarded the train, all impatient to reach
the telegraph office in New Orleans, meawhile writing
Fitzgerald had his story all complete except for a
short lead before reaching the "Crescent," and
nobody noticed him drop off as the train slowed down at
the foot of Elysian Fields Street, answering a jerk of
the bell-cord. Rushing to the waiting conveyance,
Fitzgerald drove like mad to the central office of the
Western Union in New Orleans, where he arrived fifteen
minutes in advance of all his competitors and flashed the
winner to New York.
He then filed about twenty thousand words descriptive
of the fight, which of course took precedence over the
stories of the reporters arriving by train later on. Many
of these correspondents did not get a word to their
papers, owing to the crush, and the enterprising New York
paper which had sent the five miles of wire and made such
elaborate preparations to learn in advance the location
of the battle-ground, was among the disappointed.
"Bat" Masterson, now of New York, was a
time-keeper at the Sullivan-Kilrain fight and assisted
Fitzgerald in preparing his story in time to drop off at
Elysian Fields Street.