TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Western Union Public Telegram Offices

Re: Western Union Public Telegram Offices

Thu, 09 Feb 2006 17:21:09 -0500

> It is an interesting question. I strongly suspect the Bell System
> compiled completion-time statistics for toll calls and as the 1950s
> wore on the times decreased. In the 1950s the Bell System was busy
> upgrading its toll network with microwave and coax cables and No 4
> crossbar switching. I wonder in 1954 what percentage of subscribers
> had DDD and what percentage of subscribers had operators who had toll
> dialing capability.

I have an early childhood memory. I think it is from a variety show
staring Gary Moore. But I'd never swear to that name. He's doing a
skit where his sidekick is telling him his new Direct Dial number and
he goes on and on with digits. My memory was this was just after the
"Bell System" announced country wide LD direct dial.

Being born in 1954 I'm guessing this was around 1960 or so?

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: There were a lot of jokes on this
topic during the 1960's. One person would ask for another person's
phone number and the response would go on and on and on, with a long
string of digits, and then for an added laugh, one or the other would
inquire "do I need to put a '1' in front of that?" PAT]

Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2006 20:22:04 EST
Newsgroups: comp.dcom.telecom
Subject: Re: Western Union Public Telegram Offices
Message-ID: <>
Organization: TELECOM Digest
X-Telecom-Digest: Volume 25, Issue 61, Message 5 of 7
Lines: 36

In a message dated 8 Feb 2006 13:36:16 -0800, writes:

> By the time of the movie, 1954, pay phones were a standard fixture
> virtually everywhere in cities. The building he was visiting had a
> Western Union office in the lobby and certainly would've had a bank of
> pay telephone booths; all office buildings had them in the lobby.

It was certainly difficult to find any public telephone in Denton,
Texas, a suburb of Dallas and home to two universities, in that time
frame, nor any business that would allow you to make a collect
telephone call. I speak from experience. Denton was served by
General Telephone.

[ ... ]

> I don't know about telegraph rates, but long distance telephone rates
> were based on distance. A call 1,000 miles away cost considerably more
> than a call 100 miles away. If telegraph rates were flat by distance,
> then telegrams would be more likely sent for longer distances than
> short distances.

Telegraph rates, like telephone rates, were set by distance. I once
had occasion to send a local telegram, and I believe they were common
in some cities.

Wes Leatherock

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And there were also, like phones, both
day and night rates on telegrams, and promotional deals, such as a
person who picked up a telegram in the public office was entitled to
a special cheap rate if they responded within a few minutes while
still in the office. PAT]

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