Monday, August 10, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: Western Union Telegrams

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

From 1851-2006 Western Union became almost synonymous with telegrams. (In 2006 they ceased providing their telegram service). I have several telegrams in my document collection, most of which were received by my grandmother Myrtle (Van Every) Deutsch. Together, they illustrate various reasons people sent them. Since by their nature most of them are short, I thought I would combine several of them together.

Sad News

A122 14=El Paso Tex 26 644P 1929 May 26 PM 8 07

Miss Myrtle Vanevery=
5660 Kingsbury Ave StLouis Mo=

Daddy passed away at five oclock come on without delay wire time of arrival=
Josie and Minnie.

[Minnie was my grandmother's sister, and Josie her step-mother. Her father's death certificate says time of death was six oclock.

Figuring out whether this is an error on someone's part is complicated. Both records could be correct. In 1929 El Paso was in the Central Time Zone, and neighboring New Mexico (where my great grandfather actually died) in the Mountain Time Zone. El Paso didn't move to Mountain Time until 1970. Josie lived in Garfield, NM, and Minnie in El Paso, TX, and there's no way to know who wrote the telegram, and which timezone their mind was in. Then there is the issue of "Daylight Time." The concept was introduced in 1918, but was a local decision from 1919-1943 and 1945-1966. The telegram indicates the timestamp was Standard Time.]

Happy News

DB756 11 NM=ElPaso Tex 12 1930 Mar 12 PM 10 59

Miss Myrtle Van Every=
5660 Kingsbury Blvd StLouis Mo=

Just announced our marriage of Feb 27 letter follows love=
Phil and Agnes.

[Agnes was a niece of Myrtle's. The daughter of her sister, Willa. She married Phil Gates.]

Job offers

WB37 50 Govt NL XU=Washington DC 1 1933 Jun 1 PM 3 37

Martin J Deutsch, Post Office Clerk=
VanBurean Annex CHGO=

Will you accept appointment as Post Office Inspector at twenty eight hundred dollers per annum you will be assigned to SaintLouis Division and will report to this office in Washington on June fifteenth for preliminary course of training reply by wire whether you will accept and comply with these directions=
K P Aldrich Chief Post Office Inspector...

[All indications suggest my grandfather accepted and complied.]


[my maternal grandparents were married on December 31, 1936]

QA412 43 NL=Jacksonville Flo Gwo 1936 Dec 29 PM 9 52

Miss Myrtle Van Every=
5660 Kingsbury StL=

Darlings we are thinking of you and wish for you the happiest days of your lives in the years to come congratulations to both of you on the unanimous choice may the new year bring to you health happiness and prosperity in abundance our love=
Freddie and Houston.

[I'm not sure who Freddie and Houston are.]

Holiday Greetings

[overseas telegram]

LD103 Cable Duplicate of Telephoned Telegram 1943 Jan 11 PM 349
CD Amelde
EFM Mrs. MJ Deutsch
(Mail) 417 Oakley Drive Clayton Mo

Happy Anniversary Best Wishes for New Year Love and Kisses
Martin Deutsch

Travel Plans
[my grandfather was a postal inspector so did a lot of traveling with work. These telegrams pre-date their marriage.]

Aw300 5=B Beardstown Ill 13 433P 1936 Jan 13 PM 4 49
M Van Every=
5660 Kingsbury=

Arriving Eight Tonight Hold Dinner=

AAB377 12=DE Macon Mo 10 655P 1936 Apr 10 PM 7 44
M Van Every=
5660 Kingsbury=

Will buy you one if you meet me at Esquires eleven tonight=

AAB320 5=Jefferson City Mo 25 614P 1936 Jul 25 PM 6 26
M Van Every=
5660 Kingsbury STL=

Arriving Nine Tonight Towergrove Station=

The Five Americans - in their 1960s #1 Hit - Western Union

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

1 comment:

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I was surprised not to find more telegrams in my family collection. They tended to use postcards instead. At least on my mother's side. My father was a telegrapher for awhile and I know they used telegrams quite often, they just didn't save them.