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thinking of sending a telegram - STOP
February 1, 2006 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Western Union discontinues telegraph services. Truly, the end of an era.
posted by pyramid termite (77 comments total)

 
.
posted by HTuttle at 10:01 AM on February 1, 2006


In a crude way, the telegraph was a precursor to the Internet in that it allowed rapid communication, for the first time, across great distances.

heh.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:02 AM on February 1, 2006


.. --- ...
posted by keswick at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2006


DAMMIT.

I meant:

... --- ...
posted by keswick at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2006


Telegrams had a certain formality and classiness. The only one I ever received announced my acceptance to the college I wanted to attend.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:07 AM on February 1, 2006


I'll never forget the day MonkeySaltedNuts was accepted into the Ivy League.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:08 AM on February 1, 2006


keswick: ".. --- ..."

IOS?
posted by Plutor at 10:09 AM on February 1, 2006


i'm amazed they still offered them up until now
posted by zeoslap at 10:09 AM on February 1, 2006


I wish I'd known about this sooner. I'd have exchanged telegrams with friends, just to say I'd gotten one.

With the advent of email and cellphones, I'm surprised telegrams survived as long as they did, frankly.
posted by Malor at 10:10 AM on February 1, 2006


Related AskMe.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:13 AM on February 1, 2006


Wow. I was just wondering last week if one could still send a telegram.

Thanks for the info.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:16 AM on February 1, 2006


Their service was a ripoff and I'm not surprised to hear that they're shutting it down. I sent a telegram to a former boyfriend in 2004 and they charged an arm and a leg, got the message wrong, had terrible customer service, and only delivered during business hours M-F. Additionally, they outsourced delivery to DHL, so it's not like you got a cheery guy in a Western Union uniform ringing your doorbell and handing you a telegram; instead a DHL truck pulled up, shoved a standard business envelope in the crack of the door, and took off. When I was researching sending one, it looked like the chief users of telegrams were bill collectors, followed by novelty users like myself.
posted by amber_dale at 10:16 AM on February 1, 2006


Wow. That's sad, truly.

Strip-o-grams are still available though, right?
posted by jonmc at 10:17 AM on February 1, 2006


.-. .. .--.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 10:19 AM on February 1, 2006


DRAT THAT SUCKS STOP
I HAD WANTED TO USE TELEGRAMS FOR AN ART PROJECT STOP
I THINK SOME COUNTRIES STILL USE CABLE AND TELEGRAMS STOP
posted by fandango_matt at 10:20 AM on February 1, 2006


Can I still send a Candygram to Mongo?
posted by stenseng at 10:20 AM on February 1, 2006


STOP
posted by interrobang at 10:21 AM on February 1, 2006


At my Dad's 60th birthday back in November, my aunt gave a speech where she told a story about a night when my dad was in Vietnam. Late at night, there was a knock on the door of their building. It was a Western Union man. The whole family held their collective breaths for a few moments. It turned out to be a business thing for the shop my grandad ran. Until, that night none of us (including my dad himself) had heard that story.

Telegrams are part of the fabric of history.
posted by jonmc at 10:21 AM on February 1, 2006


Western Unioooon! Dit da dit da dit, dit da dit da dit...

.-. .. .--.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:22 AM on February 1, 2006


I'd like to send this to the Prussian consulate in Siam by Aeromail. Am I too late for the 4:30 auto-gyro?
posted by crunchland at 10:24 AM on February 1, 2006


From a cheap hotel in dallas
On a cold december day
A telegram was traveling on it’s way
Like a sad old song from somewhere
In the distance of a dream
Flashing 'cross the darkness
On the telegraph machine.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:27 AM on February 1, 2006


.
posted by tiamat at 10:35 AM on February 1, 2006


Telegram Sam
You're my main man.

.
posted by trip and a half at 10:36 AM on February 1, 2006


My favorite fictional telegram of all time:

I Don't Love You Stop If You Love Me Stop
posted by slatternus at 10:38 AM on February 1, 2006


"Three Amigos, Hollywood, California. You are very great. 100,000 pesos. Come to Santa Poco put on show, stop. The In-famous El Guapo."

.
posted by Armen Tanzarian at 10:39 AM on February 1, 2006


.
posted by OmieWise at 10:40 AM on February 1, 2006


Interesting. They stopped them in the UK a while back. Just this weekend I was at the Porthcurno Telegraph museum. Back in the latter half of the 19th Century, Porthcurno - a tiny village at the tip of Cornwall (SW England) was a (if not the) world centre for telegraph communications, with 14 cables connecting it to the rest of the world. (Of course Britain was a bit more important in those days.) They bill it as the Victorian Internet on their advertising, which I'm not entirely convinced about.
posted by biffa at 10:42 AM on February 1, 2006


What hath God unwrought?
posted by kozad at 10:48 AM on February 1, 2006


I recall my time in Europe years ago when I was waiting for a train and I decided to send my family a telegram rather than a postcard or e-mail.

BOARDING TRAIN IN ROME SOON STOP WILL ARRIVE IN MILAN AT NIGHTFALL STOP HOPE ALL IS WELL STOP

The novelty hasn't worn off; they still have the telegram tucked away in a photo album in the dining room.
posted by antifreez_ at 10:49 AM on February 1, 2006


Western Union man
Bad news in his hand
Knocking at my door
Selling me the score
posted by HuronBob at 10:49 AM on February 1, 2006


Can I still send a Candygram to Mongo?

No way, man. Ming the Merciless cut the cables in '98. The only way to reach Flash now is by semaphore.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:53 AM on February 1, 2006



posted by knave at 10:54 AM on February 1, 2006


Best telegram of all time: Robert Benchley, arriving in Venice, to the New Yorker editors.

STREETS FULL OF WATER. PLEASE ADVISE.
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:57 AM on February 1, 2006


Nastygrams are still free.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:57 AM on February 1, 2006


STOP
posted by hal9k at 11:07 AM on February 1, 2006


Shouldn't this be "Western Union discontinues telegram services?" I seriously doubt that WU has used telegraphy for message transmission in decades.
posted by majick at 11:08 AM on February 1, 2006


I'm curious to see if the Internet and e-mail kill off Telex.
posted by alumshubby at 11:09 AM on February 1, 2006


keswick: ".. --- ..."

IOS?


Why not? Cisco routes every other protocol

Abbysinia Attestation.
posted by eriko at 11:14 AM on February 1, 2006


.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:16 AM on February 1, 2006


.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:18 AM on February 1, 2006


^_^
posted by lemonfridge at 11:21 AM on February 1, 2006


My favorite telegram story involves a reporter writing a profile on Cary Grant. Seeking some personal information, the reporter decides to wire Grant with a question: HOW OLD CARY GRANT

Grant, who never liked giving up much about his past, wired back OLD CARY GRANT FINE, HOW YOU

It's pretty much apocryphal and never proven, but that didn't stop Cary Grant from gleefully re-telling it in his later years.
posted by Spatch at 11:33 AM on February 1, 2006


Never sent a telegram, never expect to. But still, kind of a sad passing.
posted by fenriq at 11:38 AM on February 1, 2006


GOVT PD=BU WASHINGTON DC 616I=

METAFILTER= WORLD WIDE WEB=

PERIOD.=

POLLOMACHO=
posted by Pollomacho at 11:39 AM on February 1, 2006


One of my parents has a box full of telegrams from the late 50's, early 60's when my parents were still dating and my ornery Dad refused to get a telephone and it was the only good way for my Mom to contact him.
posted by jessamyn at 11:43 AM on February 1, 2006


.-.- ..-. .-.- ..-. -.. . -.- .- ...-- .--. ...- ..
- .... .- - ... ..- .-.- -.- ...
. -. -..
posted by moonbird at 11:46 AM on February 1, 2006


The only actual, real live telegram I've ever seen was in a scrapbook at my office documenting the company's history (it was a congratulatory message from when the place opened in 1958.)

Apparently, there are companies in Canada through which you can still send telegrams (like these guys) -- really, though, a novelty service. The old CNCP company got out of the biz in 1999, sez Wikipedia.
posted by evilcolonel at 12:01 PM on February 1, 2006


Famous grams: Bird to Chan when their daughter Pree died.
posted by bonefish at 12:12 PM on February 1, 2006


.-.- ..-. .-.- ..-. -.. . -.- .- ...-- .--. ...- ..
- .... .- - ... ..- .-.- -.- ...
. -. -..

Moonbird,

I know my code is a tad rusty but you might wanna check yours out.
posted by CJB at 12:13 PM on February 1, 2006


QuietDesperation

For a bit there I thought you misattributed Michael Brown.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:30 PM on February 1, 2006


SON NIGERIAN PRESIDENT MONEY COUP STOPALL MONEY TRAPPED NIGERIA STOP NEED YOU HELP GET MONEY OUT STOP MILLIONS IN USD STOP NEED YOUR BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER STOP OFFER LARGE PERCENTAGE OF MILLIONS USD BACK STOP REGARDS BIBI LUCKY
posted by Smedleyman at 12:34 PM on February 1, 2006


LARGER PENIS? STOP
posted by Smedleyman at 12:34 PM on February 1, 2006


PREMATURE EJACULATION STOP
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on February 1, 2006


VIAGRA STOP
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:48 PM on February 1, 2006


THINKING OF SENDING A TELEGRAM? STOP
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:48 PM on February 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


I WISH PEOPLE WOULD NOT JUST TYPE "E" AS THEIR COMMENT - STOP
posted by piratebowling at 12:51 PM on February 1, 2006


Some other famed telegrams:
Ems Dispatch [on Spanish succession; provoked Franco-Prussian War]
Kruger Telegram [German Kaiser congratulates Boers]
Zimmermann Telegram [WWI German offer to support Mexico in invading US, intercepted]
The Long Telegram [George F. Kennan cable from Moscow describing Soviet strategy; formative document in Cold War]
Blood Telegram [sent by US diplomat named Blood (!) about 1971 Bangladesh atrocities]
posted by dhartung at 12:57 PM on February 1, 2006


interrobang (and to a lesser extent hl9k):
you guys are funny.
posted by lyam at 12:59 PM on February 1, 2006


Dash it all.
posted by spock at 1:25 PM on February 1, 2006


DON'T STOP THINKING ABOUT TOMORROW STOP DON'T STOP IT'LL SOON BE HERE STOP IT'LL BE BETTER THAN BEFORE STOP YESTERDAY'S GONE STOP YESTERDAY'S GONE STOP.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:34 PM on February 1, 2006


Dot dash dot dash dot dash, dip flash, don't crash don't crash don't crash....dot dash!!!
posted by Skygazer at 1:46 PM on February 1, 2006


According to my father when he was in Vietnam South East Asia he and his squad (underwater demolitions) were half way done with a mission and about 36 hours away from their extraction point. A morris code radio message comes through saying that a squad member has received a telegram from the states.

The squad member, thinking that it's dire family news, walks by himself back through the jungle, makes it back to base, and learns that his Reader's Digest subscription is about to expire.
posted by tvjunkie at 1:52 PM on February 1, 2006


Who will let the landshark in now if no plausible telegram excuse?
posted by klangklangston at 2:02 PM on February 1, 2006


This book tells the story of the telegraph as a precusor to the internet. Highly recommended.
Nice Wire reference Skygazer.
posted by punilux at 2:08 PM on February 1, 2006


I HATE TO BE PEDANTIC COMMA BUT MOST TELEGRAPHS WERE SENT WITH BAUDOT NOT MORSE STOP SO STOP WITH THE DOT JOKES STOP THEN AGAIN IT BEATS MUSHROOMS STOP
posted by eriko at 2:13 PM on February 1, 2006


STOP HAMMERTIME STOP
posted by mhum at 2:15 PM on February 1, 2006


.-.-.-
posted by chuq at 2:18 PM on February 1, 2006


AAAAAA+++ WOULD SEND OUTDATED MODE OF COMMUNICATION AGAIN
posted by GuyZero at 2:18 PM on February 1, 2006


••.°••
°°.•&bull•
posted by eriko at 2:22 PM on February 1, 2006


••.°••
°°.•••
posted by eriko at 2:22 PM on February 1, 2006


Do Diplomats Still Use Telegrams? I'm rather amazed that the State Department was still sending up to 1 million a year recently.
posted by cmonkey at 2:51 PM on February 1, 2006


I WISH PEOPLE WOULD NOT JUST TYPE "E" AS THEIR COMMENT

Heh.

And dammit, Skygazer, you got there first with the Wire lyrics.
posted by languagehat at 2:53 PM on February 1, 2006


IGNORE PREVIOUS TELEGRAM STOP ALL MAY YET BE WELL STOP
posted by blue grama at 3:35 PM on February 1, 2006


I sent a love letter to my next door neighbor via telegram after finding out you could do that through that AskMefi question.

The telegram was submitted over the internet from Olympia, WA, printed out in Philadelphia, and overnighted via DHL back to Oly. A DHL Deliveryman hand delivered it. Cost $15 for 1000 characters.

It was conceptually awesome, and I'm sad that I'll never be able to pull that stunt again.
posted by blasdelf at 3:38 PM on February 1, 2006


The service has been significantly degraded for years; my little brother passed away in 1996 and we only had my father's address - no phone, etc.

Western Union initially refused to deliver a telegram announcing the death. I had to push it up to a Supervisor.

We found it strange, especially after being raised on B&W WWII movies where many a death was announced by telegraph.
posted by Mutant at 11:34 PM on February 1, 2006


The squad member, thinking that it's dire family news, walks by himself back through the jungle, makes it back to base, and learns that his Reader's Digest subscription is about to expire.
posted by tvjunkie at 4:52 PM EST on February 1 [!]


Left us hanging there tvjunkie....did he renew his subscription or NOT??
posted by Skygazer at 9:35 AM on February 2, 2006


I don't even want to know. The tale is just too harrowing.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:04 PM on February 2, 2006


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