The Telegraphic Wit That Preceded the '30'

By Gould, John | The Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Telegraphic Wit That Preceded the '30'


Gould, John, The Christian Science Monitor


His name was Al Kirkwood and he was night operator at our railroad station. I haven't seen him since 1928, and I did well to remember his name. Our town was on the main line, so the dispatcher's telegraph system was at the ready the clock around, but after the night express to Halifax roared through just short of midnight there wasn't much for Al to do until the morning man relieved him.

I was then becoming legman to the muses, and almost every night I'd drop in to see Al as he was the Western Union man as well as the railroad telegrapher and he sent my "press" when I had any, which I contrived to have even when there wasn't any. It went about so- fashion:

While gathering my grist for the weekly paper, I'd usually have something or other that would be a useful item to another paper in a far place. So if a salesman from Alpena, Mich. had a mishap in our Maine village, I would "query" the paper there, which Al Kirkwood handled as a straight telegram. Then the reply would usually say, "100 words." If, as sometimes happened, the editor out there read my 100 words and wanted more, that was easy. In this way I was able to eke my college days and become a noted journalist. The night the VanTouzelmeyer summer estate burned on Gifford Point I became rich by way of the Philadelphia Bulletin, the paper in the hometown of that wealthy family, which I believe is in Pennsylvania.

So the country was infested with happenings, and as hundreds of "stringers" like me were sending details, there was an active "net" of telegraphers sending stories everywhere every night. All the big papers had telegraphers in their editorial offices who "one- fingered" a typewriter as the news came over the wire, one letter at a time. And these night operators enjoyed a fraternal coziness now impossible in a world of fax machines.

Years later I attended the evening arrival of the eastbound, and Prof. Orrin Chalmers Hormell alighted after his trip to St. Louis to lecture. He was chairman of government and politics, and popular at seminars. I knew where he had been because our paper had printed an item that he was going, and now we could print another item that he had returned.

Assuring me that he'd had a good trip, he said, "Maybe you can tell me something." Three days ago, on this very railroad platform, he was about to entrain when Emery Booker happened by and told him a funny story that he had never heard before.

"Now," said Professor Hormell to me. "When I stepped off the train in St. Louis, I was met by Prof. Ed Curtis and he told me that same story and said he had just heard it. How did that story get to St. Louis before I did? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Telegraphic Wit That Preceded the '30'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.