Live Wires.

Former World's Champion Telegrapher
and Winner of the Carnegie Medal.


The Man Who Found it "No Trouble to Answer Questions"
Now at the Head of the Passenger Department.

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 year.


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 extraordinary pitch.

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 band.


American Rights of the Telephone Offered
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 directors.


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 indefinite period.

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 Message
and Makes a Relative of Henry Clay Daniel Webster's Nephew.

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.


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 pencil.

"What do you mean by 'pulled?' inquired the editor, who was a newcomer serving his first night in the position.

"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 grip."

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 practically dying."

The young editor inquired if the telegrapher did not think it was the operator that needed the rest not the wire.

"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 many operators.


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.'"


Wizard of Finance Thinks Three Minutes
and Buys Quadruplex Patent From the Wizard of Electricity.

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 latter said:

"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.


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."


Cable Tells of Dynamite Found in a "Gladstone" Bag
and Colonial Editor Attacks the "Grand Old Man."

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 guessing.

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 Zulus."

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 morning:

"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 felon's cell."


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 their stories.

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.

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