TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Western Union History

Re: Western Union History
Wed, 29 Jun 2005 19:29:32 EDT

In a message dated 29 Jun 2005 06:21:17 -0700,

>> W.U. operated a lot of local telegraph offices long after they had
>> ceased to pay for themselves. In some cases the FCC required the
>> company to keep the offices open. W.U. should have had a plan to
>> convert them to contract agencies; although the best way to do this
>> would probably involve having the agencies use TWX.

> I suspect it was both FCC and unions that forced the local offices to
> stay open. Ironically, I am not aware of any pressure on the Bell
> System to provide or not provide public business offices.

In the late 1940s my father's business took on the additional duty of
being a Western Union agent in Perry, Oklahoma (pop. about 5,000),
when the company-owned office closed. So I had some experience in
handling telegrams and money orders, although the money order was not
the center of the W.U. business as it became later.

We shared a pair out of Oklahoma City with the W.U. company-owned
office inside the Conoco refinery and offices in Ponca City. Most of
the business on the wire was from and to that office. (High-volume
W.U. users got company-owned branches; low-volume users might have a
WUX printer, which of course they operated themselves.)

The agency I am familiar with in Perry, Oklahoma, had a selective
signaling device which was not especially reliable or practical,
although if you were near enought you could count the clicks and

Telegrams were sent and received on the gummed paper tape that was
then stuck down on the telegram form manually and was the normal
medium used for telegrams in those days.

Wes Leatherock

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