Archive for the 'News' Category

Oct 16 2008

WESTERN UNION STOPS

WESTERN UNION STOPS –

TELEGRAM SERVICE DISCONTINUED

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I read a news article from 2006 that made me feel sad.
It was announced that week the Western Union telegram is now officially a thing of the past. As of a Friday in 2006, Western Union discontinued their telegram service that had lasted well over 150 years. The company was officially formed into Western Union in April 1856 by combining several telegraph companies that had been originally founded in 1851. Western Union has now decided to make the transition from a ‘communications company’ to a ‘financial services’ company.” There is no longer a telegram service available.

That’s what makes me sad.

It is indeed the end of an era.

I remember hearing my mother talk about telegrams, they were very popular back in the 1920’s and 30’s. She said telegrams were cheaper than phoning long distance and that you could save money by using the word “stop” instead of a period, since they charged extra for any punctuation. When anyone got a telegram all of the neighbors would congregate, sometimes bringing over a pot of coffee or a cake just to find out what the big news was…

All over the United States telegrams were used to make both World Changing and family announcements. Everything from the first successful airplane flight in 1903, the starting and ending of World Wars, the birth of new babies, the death of a loved one as well as impending visits by out-of-state relatives. Telegrams were heavily used to let loved ones know arriving and departure times at train stations or airports.

I used to ask her about how every day things went during the days of World War II. My Father was overseas and she told me there were those who feared and even hated the sight of the Western Union courier because the War Department, (Department of Defense) used telegrams to notify families of the death of their loved ones serving in the military. She said the young man that used to deliver telegrams in her neighborhood rode a bike and was often treated badly and chased down the alley-ways because he seldom brought Good news.

As that generation of Americans become older and so much of our history is being phased out due to finding easier quicker ways to do things, an important time in our History is being quickly forgotten. Many of the older folks have stories to share and memories that fade with the years. What amazes me is that many of the things that occur in our every day life that you and I remember vividly, no longer exist. Western Union phased out their couriers in the late 1960’s and early 70’s so there is an entire generation who will not realize what has been lost…

© 2006 oodles of infOrmation

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