The Scotch Devil
Visitors to the Atlantic and Ohio Telegraph Company couldn't help but notice the buoyant, hustling, white-haired Andy. They included Thomas A. Scott, general superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad and a regular customer, who took a paternalistic liking to the young man. Those at the telegraph office couldn't help but notice Scott. All the railroad officials were pandered to, but Scott's classic good looks—a strong chin, high cheekbones— and personable demeanor made him particularly attractive. Now, with the railroad having strung its own telegraph lines, he decided to hire a personal clerk who would double as his telegraph operator. Andy was his first choice. The lad hesitated in accepting, however.
His mentor, Mr. Glass, was now running the entire office, and Andy rightly envisioned himself in Mr. Glass's position someday. Life was comfortable, and Glass did offer to increase Andy's salary to $400 a year if he elected to stay, so why make a change? But Glass knew the railroad would offer a chance at real advancement, so even though he hated to lose an experienced operator, he encouraged the change, explaining that the most Andy could make at the telegraph office was $700 or $800 a year, while the railroad held unlimited prospects. Andy's friend and fellow telegrapher, the reliable Tom David, recalled how difficult the decision was in a letter to his friend: “It took some persuasion on the part of John P. Glass to convince you that it offered better opportunities. I saw you and Mr. Glass having an earnest talk and to my question, 'What is wrong with Andy?' he intimated that you did not like to make a change.” 1 Only after consulting with his mother, which Andy did for every important decision, and only after she concurred with Mr. Glass, did he agree to join Scott. 2
Andy revised the story later in life, claiming he was eager to join the Pennsylvania Railroad, which he promulgated in interviews and in his autobiography:
One day I was surprised by one of his [Scott's] assistants, with whom I was acquainted, telling me that Mr. Scott had asked him whether he thought