Eternity is an awe-inspiring theme and one which our little finite
minds are unable to comprehend. It is a subject, however, which should
never worry or distress us, when we stop to realize that we are all
living in the eternal now.
Once upon a time, an evangelist, in following up his line of business,
rendered a discourse on “Eternity” which would have given one an
opportunity for endless mathematics.
“Supposing this earth was a huge ball of steel,” he began, “25,000
miles in circumference and a little bird would pass over it once every
thousand years, lightly touching this immense steel body with the tip
of its wing. Were you to tell the souls in hades that they would be
released by the time the bird had cut a hole through and divided the
sphere, there would be great rejoicing among the condemned.”
Knowing that there is nothing lost in God’s creation this little
allegory should never make one nervous, for we also know that, like
John Brown, our “soul goes marching on,” onward and upward.
Having delivered my text, I will proceed with my story.
_Lincoln’s Birthday on Planet Mars._
It was a delightful gathering which assembled at a dinner on the
planet Mars given in honor of Abraham Lincoln, on the occasion of his
birthday, by the Pleiades Club, composed mostly of old-time telegraph
men and their admirers, A. D. 1916.
Numerically, the gathering was greater than that which assembled on any
previous occasion on Mother Earth, and viewing the happy, smiling faces
of those present, one felt that it was good to be here.
Sounders clicked on every side; all were readable, and harmony
prevailed, nobody ever sending six dots for the letter “p” or the
figure 4 for a “v.”
President Lincoln presided and much attention was paid to his remarks.
The President’s face possessed that wonderfully kind and loving
appearance so apparent during life and his voice bespoke his gentle
spirit. Earnestly he chatted with some late arrivals on Mars, asking
particularly for his old telegraph associates on earth. He enquired
about the “Sacred three” and Billy Dealy and many of the boys in the
field in the stirring days of the war.
The President was a busy soul, looking out for “his Father’s business,”
as he expressed it, and he was the recipient of much reverence from all
_Aaron Hilliker Sings Olden Song._
Music was called for, when to the astonishment of all, the form of A.
B. Hilliker appeared at the threshold. Aaron was as full of bonhomme
as of yore and responded to many requests by singing “The Old Oaken
Bucket,” which evoked an enthusiastic encore.
“What did you sine in the spring of ’73?” queried Jim Largay.
“You should have asked me what I sined in ’53,” replied Hilliker, as he
smiled at Professor Morse, who pleasantly returned the recognition.
“The question before the Club tonight is ‘Preparedness,’” remarked
General Thomas T. Eckert, “and I would like to see this subject fully
discussed,” continued that gallant gentleman.
_Biff Cook Makes a Speech._
“Never mind,” interposed “Biff” Cook, “that is all provided for and
should our beloved country ever get into a war, it will be one of short
duration. It will be a one man’s war against a congress of nations.
Why, my friends, the ‘Wizard of Menlo Park’ has all that studied out,
but he is not talking about it or giving the idea away.”
“Why,” continued Cook, emphasizing his words, “Tom Edison has it
all figured out that in twelve hours’ time he can weave a cobweb
of wires on our ocean’s shore to completely annihilate immediately
any threatening craft fifty miles out at sea. I wish that I could
communicate this information to the timid people down there on earth,
for I believe it would do them a world of good.
“I know all about this, for Tom told me about the scheme back there in
’74, when I used to ‘dot on his quadruplex’ along with Eddie Fullum and
Billy Landy, at 145 Broadway.
“No, boys,” went on “Biff,” “let’s talk of the wireless. We are all so
much interested in that. Why, it was only last week that we all heard
New York talking to Honolulu and I tried to break in, but that ‘ham’ in
New York would not adjust and we lost our opportunity of being heard.
Just think, if he had pulled up his relay just half an inch we would
have been in direct communication. If that fellow had ever worked in
Cheyenne alongside of Comb Green, when I worked the overland at Omaha,
he would have known something about keeping adjusted and the dear old
Earth would have received startling news which would have thrown the
feat of Commander Peary into the shade.
“Don’t you know, cull,” continued Cook, “that I really believe that
our planet Mars may be called upon to perform her good offices in case
any hostile nation should attempt to invade the United States, and I
believe that Tom Edison has solved that intricate problem.”
With these remarks, “Biff” sat down amid thundering applause.
* * * * *
The St. Louis band, composed of W. W. Cummings, Sidney B. Fairchild,
James Nelson and James Murray, then rendered “The Star-Spangled
Banner,” after which the audience was addressed on the subject of
Professor Zingalli, of Milan, whose name would indicate that he was
“flagging” while on earth, gave the assemblage a graphic account of the
possibilities of the wireless.
“Why, my friends,” he said, “this science is still in its infancy. Were
I to tell you of all its possibilities, you would not believe me. The
day is sure to come when all you gentlemen will have an opportunity of
talking to your loved ones on earth by means of the wireless telephone.
There will be a million circuits running into Chicago, none of them
interfering with the other. Every hamlet in the country will have a
wireless telephone and telegraph instrument. Trains will be run by
wireless, ships will use wireless as a motive power and city car lines’
power will be usurped by the ever present wireless.”
“Then I would not have to walk any more from San Francisco to Chicago,
would I?” ejaculated the irrepressible “Bogy.”
“Cold day when you ever walked,” laughed Hank Cowan, who sat opposite
his former colleague. “That ‘con’ told me a different story; yes, you
walked all the way, of course you did, but only from one end of the car
to the other.”
This sally caused much merriment among the members of the Club, which
gave way to a speech entitled “The Future of the Telegraph,” specially
prepared for the occasion by Col. Mark D. Crain.
The meeting then adjourned subject to the call of the secretary, who
was none else than that prince of good fellows, Jim P. Doody.
There was much commotion on the planet Mars.
As closely as the most patriotic mathematician could reckon time and
compare it with a corresponding period on the Earth, it was Fourth of
July and the dwellers on Mars decided to celebrate in a “sane” manner.
Everybody to their own liking and the American members of the Pleiades
Club determined that this should be the occasion when Colonel Marquis
Delafayette Crain should address them on “The Future of the Telegraph.”
The club members began gathering at an early hour, forming into little
knots in a semi-circle around the speaker’s stand. It was a “get
acquainted” meeting, too, and the committee of arrangements was kept
“Yes, I have known Bert Ayres for many years and copied press from him
many a night,” said O. A. Gurley, as Mr. Ayres was introduced. Merry
sallies passed between the two gentlemen, when the gavel sounded with
a loud rap and the master of ceremonies introduced Col. Mark D. Crain,
Loud and enthusiastic greetings followed this introduction and the
Colonel smilingly acknowledged the welcome.
_Colonel Crain Delivers Address._
“I am to speak today upon the future of the telegraph,” he began, but
he was interrupted by Ed. Parmalee, who asked him to change his topic
to the “past” history of the telegraph.
“Cannot do it just now, as I am all primed with my topic, and some
other time will do; besides, you know, we are now in Eternity and we
have all the time there is.”
The Colonel then took up his manuscript, which he began to read:
“The telegraph has made astounding progress during the past five
years,” he began, “but there are much better things in store for the
employes than ever before.
“For instance, a device has been invented which practically annihilates
time when it comes to taking messages off the wires.
“A typewriter with the standard keyboard is used, but the combinations
are numerous. To an expert, ten words are written with one touch of the
key and a fifty-word night letter will be written by simply touching
five different keys on the typewriter. It all depends upon knowing how,
and you know,” remarked the Colonel merrily, “we get paid for what we
know, and not for what we do.
“You can now see that it will take but ten seconds to receive a
fifty-word night letter, but the toll to the public is just the same.
The companies, however, are willing to divide the earnings with the
operators and a new schedule of salaries has been made as follows:
“Operators will receive ten mills for each message handled, but they
are required to handle at least 500 messages every hour, their work
being confined to five hours a day.
“You see their wages will therefore be $5 per hour, or $25 per day for
five hours’ work. The company will not permit an operator to work more
than twenty days a month, so the maximum salary for each operator will
“The company will furnish three meals a day–”
“Did I understand you to say ‘free meals a day?’” broke in Jake Tubman,
who sat near the speaker.
“I should have said three free meals a day,” laughingly replied the
speaker, and, continuing, “and automobiles will call for and return
each employe home.
“The chief will meet each operator at the door when he quits for the
day and ask him the state of his health, how he enjoyed his work,
and if he has any grievance to relate. The manager, too, will greet
operators all at the landing of the elevator and ask them if they care
to ‘draw’ today.”
“Oh, my, that strikes me about right,” cried out Fred Loomis, and many
others showed their appreciation of the innovation.
“All operators will be treated with much consideration and distinction,
especial attention being given to pacifying all recalcitrants and
smoothing out all kicks and complaints which may arise, but it is
thought the programme outlined will wipe out all differences.”
Colonel Crain’s speech was followed with wild applause and a big
demonstration. The band played “Happy Days” on the harps.
After order had been restored, Colonel Crain was asked to speak on the
“old timers,” it being remarked that he should be quite at home on that
“Yes, I know a few of them,” began Mark. “They came and went when I was
in Kansas City, and we always had a delightful time.
“Let’s see, there was Jim Delong–”
“Present,” interrupted the voice of Mr. Delong, amid applause.
The speaker continued:
“Yes, there was Billy Spink, too–”
“Here also,” broke in the familiar voice of Mr. Spink, who received an
“Then there was Frank Farley, Dan Martin, Billy Foy, Jim Cook, Milton
Geowey, Harry Smith, John Topliff–”
“Don’t forget me,” broke in Fred Swain, as he swung into sight on the
arm of Bob Rankin.
“I’m not going to overlook you,” continued Crain; “I remember the time
you wanted to take a trip with me from the window of the tenth floor of
the Chicago office, without an aeroplane.”
This remark evoked much merriment among the old timers of Chicago.
“Well, gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to meet and greet you all here
today and to realize that we do not have to put a sub. on and that all
the wires are always working O. K.”
“That is because you have the pick of the construction department,”
smilingly remarked M. C. Bristol, and the assemblage acquiesced.
“Let’s get back to the original text,” said Billy West, who had been
deeply interested in Mr. Crain’s address. “I would like to hear more of
the future of the telegraph and I greatly enjoy hearing Colonel Crain’s
“Yes, here are a few pages that the Colonel overlooked,” said secretary
Jim Doody, handing the same to Mr. Crain.
“Ah, yes, I have something else to say and a little story to relate
which, I think, you will all be pleased to listen to.”
Silence once more reigned as the speaker began:
“The telegraph stock is away up, Western Union selling for $495 and
Postal $415. The companies are studying the advisability of segregating
a portion of their stock for charitable purposes, which idea is under
consideration by the executive committee.
“An operator will be retired when he has reached the age of thirty with
a pension of five years’ salary in advance to enable him to go into
some profitable business.”
“I’m glad I am not on Earth to witness such dreadful extravagances,”
interrupted Russell Sage, who had been an attentive listener.
“Those are my sentiments also,” cried Jay Gould, who had arrived in
time to hear the last part of Colonel Crain’s address.
“My remarks will close with a little story about one of our most
distinguished members. The story may not be a new one to you who are
here present, but it is a good one,” and Colonel Crain paused.
“Oh, go ahead,” shouted the audience; “let’s have the story.”
“It was about a quarter of a century ago on the planet Mars and a great
commotion was going on at the gates. There had been an unusual exodus
from Earth, the accommodation train bringing with it many millionaires,
all ready to become citizens.
“One man hurriedly left the train and began elbowing his way through
the surging crowd.
“Addressing the doorkeeper, the newcomer asked to be admitted
instantly, but was told that he must take his turn.
“Indignation filled the newly arrived, who exclaimed, ‘My name is Jay
Gould and while on earth I could buy my way in at any place. I did not
bring any money with me, but I can give you a check for any amount you
say. I want to get in quickly, so just say how much money you want.’
“The doorkeeper paused for a moment and replied: ‘A million up here
counts for one cent and a second of time is the same as a thousand
“‘All right,’ exclaimed Gould, ‘just tell me how much money you want to
let me in.’
“Again did the doorkeeper stop to think, finally ejaculating, ‘One
“‘Here is a check for it,’ said Gould.
“‘Wait a minute,’ replied the doorkeeper.
“This conversation occurred about twenty-five years ago and it is
evident that Mr. Gould did not ‘wait a minute’ as suggested by the
This story was received with a tumult of applause by the entire
assemblage, after which the meeting adjourned.
It was understood that the next meeting would be addressed by a number
of southern operators, who will relate their telegraphic experience
while on Earth.
It was certainly a choice gathering of spirits who flocked together at
Telegraphers’ Tabernacle to listen to the doings of the boys from Dixie
who were members of this honorable body.
Fred B. Moxon, courtly and affable as of old, called the meeting to
Mr. Moxon explained that the meeting was called for the purpose of
having a pleasant time and everyone was cordially invited to say
“Is Bob Irwin, ‘Canada’s fastest man,’ present?” came an inquiry from
“No, Bob and Aleck Sinnot went a-fishing this morning down to Hesperian
canal, but we expect to see them back very soon.”
“I say, Dave,” queried Kentucky George Ellsworth, “how about that story
that Brother Topping tells about you when you were on General Bragg’s
staff? Did the General really cease hostilities on a certain occasion
till you could be located?”
“Just you read United States history and get better acquainted with
me,” testily replied Ryan. But a smile speedily lit up the old war
horse’s face when he recognized the president of the meeting.
“Well, if there isn’t Fred Moxon, whom I left in St. Louis in 1875.
Glad to see you, old boy; do you remember how you used to paste me when
I was down there in Galveston? I tell you what, to take you and fight
those native mosquitoes was a bigger job than fighting under General
“Yes, Dave, you remember how that old Long Horn wire used to work and
how those repeaters at Denison would rattle? The man in charge of the
Denison repeaters went to sleep one night and I could not hear you
“I never broke in my life,” interrupted Ryan.
“That’s right, too,” agreed Moxon, “and the only way I knew you were
getting me was to ask New Orleans.”
“Same old stunt,” broke in Cy Whitaker, who just arrived and took a
seat in front.
“Why, here is Ed Whitford, is he in our class?” asked “Fid” Powers.
“Yes, he is eligible, for he worked two winters in New Orleans. Let him
sit down, as I have one on him,” suggested Dick Babbitt.
“Sit down, Ed, you are welcome at our festive board. I want to tell the
boys of the joke you played on me once upon a time.
“I dropped into the Chicago office to get acquainted with the boys and
see what new things had been introduced. Whitford was always the master
of ceremonies in the Chicago office, doubtless because he could always
see a funny side to everything.
“‘Look at this big ground wire,’ said Whitford, pointing to the iron
pillar, which ran from floor to ceiling, the only obstruction in the
big room. ‘Yes, this is the ground wire which grounds every wire
in Chicago and ofttimes holds millions of volts. There is enough
electricity in the ground wire at this minute to completely annihilate
an entire army if applied in the proper way; yes, this ground wire is
one of the institutions of Chicago.
“‘Want to see some good receiving? Well, come here and witness the
finest operator in the world. He can copy 100 words behind, as I will
“Going up to Jack Carroll, who was receiving a special from Luke
Fisher, at Omaha, Whitford grabbed Carroll’s hand, which he shook for
two minutes, Fisher sending at top notch speed.
“Releasing his hand, Carroll took up a new sheet and began to copy just
as if he had not been interrupted.
“‘Wonderful, wonderful,’ ejaculated the spectators, but we did not know
that Jack had a time in squaring himself with Luke Fisher to get him to
repeat the missing portion.”
“Yes, Ed, you were always on hand like warts when it came to going
to the annual reunion of the Old Timers, too,” said Billy West, who
arrived at this juncture, high hat and gold-headed cane.
“Glad to see you again, Bill,” shouted many voices.
“Gentlemen, let us quit shop talk for a few minutes and see what the
latest is from the seat of the great European battle ground.
“I say, Mr. Chairman, can you tell me if Ethiopia has joined the
allies,” questioned Jim Taylor, a recently arrived colored employe from
“Yes, you bet; I could make out a battalion marching north and they
were carrying the national flag of Ethiopia,” remarked Charlie Newton,
as he sauntered in.
“What am the flag of Ethiopia?” asked Taylor.
“Why, it is a picture of a watermelon cut in halves on one side of the
flag and a ham bone on the other side,” laughingly replied Newton, and
a burst of merriment ensued.
“I have been practicing with mirrors,” began Moxon, “and I find that I
can bottle up and concentrate enough of the sun’s rays to completely
vaporize any intruding battleship 100 miles at sea. We turn on our
searchlight, which is equal to a billion candle power and signal for
her to turn back. Upon her refusal to do so, the bottled up energy of
the sun is turned on and presently a smoke arises which in five minutes
is lifted and nothing can be seen of the unfriendly man o’ war.
“I am in telepathic communication with my old partner, Jeff Hayes,
who is still a resident of the terrestrial sphere, and we are able to
convey much intelligence in this way to each other. I have already
given him the dope on this new idea and you will find that the matter
will be given the widest publicity on earth.
“I notice we have with us Col. Tally Mann, once of Sherman, Jack Taylor
of Galveston, Ed Davis, David Flannery, Charlie Patch, Jim Stacey, Jack
McDonald, Jimmie Rust, Jack Sinclair, Jack Graham and Phil Fall.”
At the mention of each name a cheer went up, each gentleman arising and
making a graceful bow.
Bob Irwin, “Canada’s fastest,” put in an appearance now with a string
of Dollie Varden trout which he stated he had caught over in the
“No, I did not subsidize any small boy, either,” warmly remarked Irwin,
“for I am a fisherman from way back.”
“Yes, you used to catch catfish on the Mississippi below St. Louis,”
said John Topliff as he bobbed to the front.
“I never contradict my chief operator; you taught me that stunt,”
retorted Irwin, and all the St. Louis contingent laughed to the echo.
“I never liked that story Dick Babbitt propagated about David Flannery.
You remember that one about ‘Jobs and Positions.’ I never liked it and
I am going to tell Dick so.”
“I plead guilty,” said Babbitt, adding “and I throw myself upon the
mercy of the Court.” This remark was made with mock solemnity, which
evoked an “Aw, forgit it” from Davis.
The band, of which Ed Leloup was the leader, discoursed some stirring
Southern melodies, after which the meeting took the form of a general
social feast, many introductions being made.
There was no bickering, no quarreling, no riotousness on the planet
Mars. Surely everyone was supposed to forget all these ere they could
remain in peace in this delightful haven of rest.
Everything was so harmonious here that few cared to leave its
delightful precincts until lapse of time urged him for a higher climb.
To the lover of music, music was everywhere; to the student of
literature, the universe was an open book, always ready to instruct
an earnest student; to the inquirer after the arts and sciences, Mars
gives ample opportunity for study and advancement, but to the person
who makes inquiry after the pleasures of a flesh, a big and emphatic
“No” is given. Mars and its inhabitants are built on different lines.
Pardon being asked for and granted for this diversion, Chairman Moxon
announced that the next meeting would be held under the auspices of the
old Chicago office, which announcement created a whirlwind of applause.
Lara Boone and Hank Spencer then sang, “Oh Where Is My Wandering Boy
Tonight” and the meeting passed into history.