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Old 02-21-2019, 02:31 PM
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How do cable addresses work (e.g., "Wire Paladin, San Francisco")?


I'm watching all of Have Gun Will Travel from the beginning. I bought myself the boxed set a while back. I'm a Wild Thing.

Once we kids figured out that "Wire" wasn't the man's first name, it raised the question, how would that skimpy address get a message to him? Does someone in, say, Boston, go to the telegraph office and send a telegram to the (only?) office in San Francisco, and they have a directory that says "Paladin" is that cool dude who wears white suits (except when he wears black) and lives in the Hotel Carlton? So they print up the telegram and a guy on a bicycle delivers it?

How did one acquire a cable address? Was there a fee, like the monthly charge for a land line (and a listing in the Phone Book)? Are cable addresses still in use? Are they still needed in some places?

They're so cool-sounding. Wire Thelma. Mayberry.
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Old 02-21-2019, 02:54 PM
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I do not have an answer, but I do recall the last time I heard such a conceit applied in a television show. There was an episode of Frasier in which Niles was going to move into a fancy condo or apartment building in Seatlle. His line was something like, "I won't even have an address any more! Henceforth, I shall be 'Doctor Niles Crane, The Montana.'"
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Old 02-21-2019, 02:58 PM
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I'm watching all of Have Gun Will Travel from the beginning. I bought myself the boxed set a while back. I'm a Wild Thing.

Once we kids figured out that "Wire" wasn't the man's first name, it raised the question, how would that skimpy address get a message to him? Does someone in, say, Boston, go to the telegraph office and send a telegram to the (only?) office in San Francisco, and they have a directory that says "Paladin" is that cool dude who wears white suits (except when he wears black) and lives in the Hotel Carlton? So they print up the telegram and a guy on a bicycle delivers it?

How did one acquire a cable address? Was there a fee, like the monthly charge for a land line (and a listing in the Phone Book)? Are cable addresses still in use? Are they still needed in some places?

They're so cool-sounding. Wire Thelma. Mayberry.
I suspect that Paladin visits the cable office daily when he's in town, and asks for any cables for him. Or possibly his hotel has a kid who stops by the cable office daily to get any cables for inhabitants of the hotel.
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:18 PM
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It sounds a bit like "general delivery" for mail service.
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:35 PM
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I suspect that Paladin visits the cable office daily when he's in town, and asks for any cables for him. Or possibly his hotel has a kid who stops by the cable office daily to get any cables for inhabitants of the hotel.
Are you kidding? Paladin never went to the cable office. Hey Boy (actually a Chinese man much above the age of a boy) gave the telegrams to him. And as I recall, he said they were delivered. I too have the boxed set, but it's been some time since I watched.

I assume he was simply famous enough locally that only his names was a sufficient address inside San Francisco. Some time in 60's a letter was delivered to Mad Magazine with no address other than a picture of Alfred E Neuman pasted on the envelope. There were no computer read addresses in those days, and even less so in Paladin's time.

Last edited by OldGuy; 02-21-2019 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:39 PM
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Are you kidding? Paladin never went to the cable office. Hey Boy (actually a Chinese man much above the age of a boy) gave the telegrams to him. And as I recall, he said they were delivered. I too have the boxed set, but it's been some time since I watched.

I assume he was simply famous enough locally that only his names was a sufficient address inside San Francisco. Some time in 60's a letter was delivered to Mad Magazine with no address other than a picture of Alfred E Neuman pasted on the envelope. There were no computer read addresses in those days, and even less so in Paladin's time.
Thanks. Obviously it's been some time since I've watched too. Sounds like you've answered the OP's question.
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:39 PM
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I'm reminded of the apocryphal story of a letter delivered to a man with the address

WOOD
JOHN
MASS

which was correctly delivered to John Underwood, Andover, Massachusetts.
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Old 02-21-2019, 03:43 PM
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Are cable addresses still in use? Are they still needed in some places?
Very likely not, at least not in the developed world. Western Union ceased operating their telegram service in 2006. There is apparently a successor company, iTelegram, which offers telegram services, though this 2016 article from The Atlantic suggests that their service amounts to them sending a letter for you through normal mail. Their site talks up "your message is hand-delivered," but they also say that they require a street address for delivery (and it sounds like "hand delivered" may well be just "the USPS delivery person puts it in the recipient's mailbox"). So, no "cable address" like Paladin's anymore.

This Wikipedia article also indicates that there are still telegram services offered in a number of other countries, but it's not clear how many (if any) of them are still using the old technology for them.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 02-21-2019 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 02-21-2019, 04:43 PM
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I haven't used them in years but I think that the Eastern Union singing telegram service still exists
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Old 02-21-2019, 04:56 PM
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I'm not an expert in this area, but I know that the telegraph companies went to great lengths to reduce the data a telegrapher would have to transmit, including using codes and abbreviations for many common phrases and questions. It would make a lot of sense to use a short descriptor for a recipient, instead of full name and address. Whether the local telegraph office kept a directory and delivered them or waited for somebody to call, I don't know.
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Old 02-21-2019, 05:17 PM
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Very likely not, at least not in the developed world. Western Union ceased operating their telegram service in 2006. There is apparently a successor company, iTelegram, which offers telegram services, though this 2016 article from The Atlantic suggests that their service amounts to them sending a letter for you through normal mail. Their site talks up "your message is hand-delivered," but they also say that they require a street address for delivery (and it sounds like "hand delivered" may well be just "the USPS delivery person puts it in the recipient's mailbox"). So, no "cable address" like Paladin's anymore.

This Wikipedia article also indicates that there are still telegram services offered in a number of other countries, but it's not clear how many (if any) of them are still using the old technology for them.
Thank you for doing the research I was too lazy to do.
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Old 02-21-2019, 05:49 PM
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Does someone in, say, Boston, go to the telegraph office and send a telegram to the (only?) office in San Francisco, and they have a directory that says "Paladin" is that cool dude who wears white suits (except when he wears black) and lives in the Hotel Carlton? So they print up the telegram and a guy on a bicycle delivers it?
Yes. That's a Telegraph Address. Which is something like a Phone Number. He's a cool dude, so it probably goes to the telegraph in his swank hotel, and the page boy delivers it or gives it to his sidekick.

I see that 10 years ago government offices in India were still providing a "telegraph address", although I'm sure that even then they meant what I would call a "telex address"

Last edited by Melbourne; 02-21-2019 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:01 PM
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There are 3 types of worldwide communication:

Telephone
Telegraph
Tell a woman
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:09 PM
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Thank you for doing the research I was too lazy to do.
Thank you for the impetus for a few minutes of procrastination today.
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:11 PM
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There are 3 types of worldwide communication:

Telephone
Telegraph
Tell a woman
1971 sent a telegram -- they want their joke back.
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:17 PM
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I'm reminded of the apocryphal story of a letter delivered to a man with the address

WOOD
JOHN
MASS

which was correctly delivered to John Underwood, Andover, Massachusetts.
I remember reading - many years ago - that the Royal Mail staff enjoy getting addresses like that and they have a group of employees who handle addresses like that that stump lesser mortals. I don't know if that's still the case.
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:26 PM
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Thank you for the impetus for a few minutes of procrastination today.
As a retired person, I'm always ready to help the gainfully employed waste time. (Kind of like when I was still working...)

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I remember reading - many years ago - that the Royal Mail staff enjoy getting addresses like that and they have a group of employees who handle addresses like that that stump lesser mortals. I don't know if that's still the case.
THAT would be a fun job to have!
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:29 PM
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In 1968 I sent a telegram to my parents to let them know I’d landed in Paris: “Does the name Quasimodo ring a bell?”
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:12 PM
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Well into the era of the ZIP Code, you saw a lot of addresses that made assumptions about how well known a particular company was, and it made perfect sense because large businesses had "holdout orders" at the local post office, and sent an employee each morning to get the box or bundle of mail. So "Westinghouse Electric, Pittsburgh, Pa." was plenty to get it there, as was "George Brown, Rice Hotel, Houston, Tex."

In the Telex era, companies had unique strings that worked very much like email addresses, and they typically told you the "answerback" that you would receive as verification that your message had gone through to the right place.

That makes me go out on a limb and think that companies and others having accounts with Western Union could "register" a name that would thereafter be considered perfectly sufficient as an address. A book at the Western Union office would have been kept up-to-date with the address or hotel where messages would be delivered, in case the new boy didn't yet know.
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:45 PM
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Wikipedia knows all. You could register a telegraphic address with the Post Office or telegraph company. It suited them because it reduced the amount of data they had to transmit. It suited your correspondents because it cost them less to send the telegram. And it might suit you to have a distinctive and easily memorable telegraphic address.

The telegram was delivered in the usual way; nobody would have registered a telegraphic address if it meant that deliver would be delayed. The receiving telegraph office would consult a directory to find out where to deliver.
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Old 02-21-2019, 11:47 PM
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Some time in 60's a letter was delivered to Mad Magazine with no address other than a picture of Alfred E Neuman pasted on the envelope. There were no computer read addresses in those days, and even less so in Paladin's time.
Really? Playboy had this, also; the Rabbit logo was the only address and it was delivered correctly.
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Old 02-22-2019, 12:29 AM
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Really? Playboy had this, also; the Rabbit logo was the only address and it was delivered correctly.
Traditionally, post offices take pride in correctly delivering obscurely-addressed mail. This tumblr account documents one person's attempt to test the capacity of the Irish post office in this respect. The post office generally performs well, correctly delivering:
  • a letter addressed only to "man in Waterford who looks like a bit of a rapist"
  • a letter addressed to “Ya know yer wan, her mother’s Hogan from Castleblayney, but the daughter’s an ex-townie. Grew up on Athlone and moved to Balllymacward when she got married. Lives next door to her in-laws now. She has a rake a’ childer and 7 dogs and 4 cats and about 30 hens + ducks and some rabbits an fish and I think she has a hamster as well. She has a shrine to the Virgin Mary in the left corner of her garden. Can you give her this please? Thanks xxx”
  • a letter in which the address was covered by a rotating encoding disc, which had to be rotated in a stated sequence in order to reveal the address, letter by letter.
  • a letter addressed only with a hand-drawn map of the county, with the destination marked with an arrow and the words “here please”
  • A letter addressed to a train driver, identified only by the number of his locomotive.
  • A letter addressed to the ringmaster of a travelling circus, with no location given.
  • A letter in which all numbers had been stripped from the address - street numbers and postcode - and the postman had to solve a sodoku puzzle to identify the missing numbers.
Some people clearly have a lot of time on their hands.
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Old 02-22-2019, 05:19 AM
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seal cleaner:

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In 1968 I sent a telegram to my parents to let them know I’d landed in Paris: “Does the name Quasimodo ring a bell?”
"Where is he sending this telegram from?"
"I'm not certain, but I have a hunch..."
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Old 02-22-2019, 05:39 AM
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Wikipedia knows all. You could register a telegraphic address with the Post Office or telegraph company. ... The receiving telegraph office would consult a directory to find out where to deliver.
Hehe.
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
...they have a directory that says "Paladin" is that cool dude who wears white suits (except when he wears black) and lives in the Hotel Carlton? ....


Quote:
Originally Posted by UDS View Post
Traditionally, post offices take pride in correctly delivering obscurely-addressed mail. This tumblr account documents one person's attempt to test the capacity of the Irish post office in this respect. The post office generally performs well, correctly delivering:
  • a letter addressed only to "man in Waterford who looks like a bit of a rapist"
...<snip>...

Some people clearly have a lot of time on their hands.
No kidding. Those types probably spend a lot of time on message boards.



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seal cleaner:

"Where is he sending this telegram from?"
"I'm not certain, but I have a hunch..."
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Old 02-22-2019, 06:06 AM
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1971 sent a telegram -- they want their joke back.
1951 wants their joke back....

Famously by Estee Lauder, who attributed her success to word-of-mouth marketing.
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Old 02-22-2019, 06:21 AM
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I've been trying to find the names of some California Hotels that had telegraph offices, but without success. All I've found about America so far is
Quote:
Originally Posted by My Sisters Telegraphic
The city department generally included not only the operators at the main office but also those at branch offices in hotels and stores throughout the city. Many city departments became predominantly female in the 1870s; male operators who ventured into the city department in those years often became the object of teasing and “hazing” from the women.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:38 AM
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Really? Playboy had this, also; the Rabbit logo was the only address and it was delivered correctly.
IIRC, Mad copied the idea after Playboy did it to prove that they were just as famous.
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Old 02-22-2019, 08:57 AM
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1971 sent a telegram -- they want their joke back.
Make that 1951
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Old 02-22-2019, 02:59 PM
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I've been trying to find the names of some California Hotels that had telegraph offices, but without success. All I've found about America so far is
Is this the kind of information you are looking for: The Official Hotel Red Book and Directory (1920 edition). It appears that by this date it was standard for most hotels (denoted in the book with the symbol ) to have a telegraph office, even in small towns.

Last edited by whitetho; 02-22-2019 at 03:00 PM. Reason: An anagram for "The Morse code" is "Here come dots".
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Old 02-22-2019, 03:56 PM
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Is this the kind of information you are looking for: The Official Hotel Red Book and Directory (1920 edition). It appears that by this date it was standard for most hotels (denoted in the book with the symbol ) to have a telegraph office, even in small towns.
Oh my -- I LOVE that! Thank you so much for that link!
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Old 02-22-2019, 04:51 PM
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IIRC, Mad copied the idea after Playboy did it to prove that they were just as famous.
I don't believe so. I read that issue of Mad when it first came out. As I recall Mad's editorial answer was along the line of a challenge to Playboy so I think a Playboy reader responded.
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Old 02-22-2019, 05:22 PM
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I don't believe so. I read that issue of Mad when it first came out. As I recall Mad's editorial answer was along the line of a challenge to Playboy so I think a Playboy reader responded.
I also read the issue when it first came out, and as I recall the Mad editor said that there had been some suspicion that the Playboy delivery wasn't authentic, while theirs was proven to have actually occurred. The Playboy delivery happened in 1959. I can't find a definite date for the Mad event but references say "in the 1960s." I believe I started reading Mad when I was 10, which would have been in 1961.

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Old 02-23-2019, 07:40 AM
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Many organisations had a telegraphic address; the Metropolitan Police had HANDCUFFS, LONDON. I observe from an old catalogue RIFLEMEN, BIRMINGHAM for the Parker-Hale company selling gun and shooting requisites.
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:11 AM
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I love "HANDCUFFS, LONDON"!
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:55 AM
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I've been trying to find the names of some California Hotels that had telegraph offices, but without success.
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Originally Posted by whitetho View Post
Is this the kind of information you are looking for: The Official Hotel Red Book and Directory (1920 edition). It appears that by this date it was standard for most hotels (denoted in the book with the symbol ) to have a telegraph office, even in small towns.
Well, I messed up that reply. On further review, the symbol indicates communities, not hotels, with telegraph offices.

However, I was able to find a few references at the California Digital Newspaper Collection site. At this time the two main U.S. telegraph companies were Western Union and Postal Telegraph (which, despite its similar name, was a private company unrelated to the U.S. Postal Service): Hotel La Vista Grande, Monrovia, 1903, Tremont Hotel, Red Bluff, 1904, Clarendon Hotel, Los Angeles, 1875 where "The Western Union Telegraph Offices communicate with the Reading Room", Blackman House, Los Angeles, 1875 (which became the Grand Central Hotel), and another Grand Central Hotel, Tabor City, 1875.

A couple more interesting documents: International Cable Directory of the World in conjunction with Western Union Telegraphic Code System (1905 edition), and the Western Union Travelers' Cable Code.
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:02 AM
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I think addresses generally did not necessarily need much complexity in the olden days, as few people corresponded, and low local populations meant that officials often knew each individual who was being addressed. This was the case where I grew up. We did not have an address, other than the town where we lived. We were the only people with our last name. I could get a letter at "Napier, Napierville" or "Napier, Napierville, Napierstate" depending on the distance from which it was sent. When when Zip Codes came out, I could get a letter at "Napier, 12345" from anywhere in the US.

To give directions to our house, we would state the name of our road, and where along the road our driveway was, in terms of landmarks or the closest intersections. But our road name was also not that established, and appeared as "Creek Road" or "Suchandsuch Creek Road" in various contexts such as road signs, maps, and official documents. We did not have a mailbox on the road, but rather went to the post office to pick it up, and there were no address numbers along that road.

All this has changed. They redefined town boundaries, so our old home appears to have moved to a different town several miles away. The Zip code changed. And our long driveway, which had 3 then 4 then 5 houses along it, has since been redesignated a named road with address numbers along it. Other than the state, there would be nothing to link the old and new addresses.

Addresses, I think, used to be much less formal, and might be thought of more as instructions for reaching somebody than as a formatted protocol such as might be filled in in a form online.
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:46 PM
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This is so cool. The last column gives the cable address.

At the top of those pages, it says,
Mark Transatlantic Cablegrams for United States, Canada, Cuba, West Indies, Mexico and beyond "Via Western Union, "Via Anglo, or "Via Direct."
Anyone care to suss out exactly what the difference is among those? What do you suppose qualified as "beyond" back then?
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:27 PM
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This is so cool. The last column gives the cable address.

At the top of those pages, it says,
Mark Transatlantic Cablegrams for United States, Canada, Cuba, West Indies, Mexico and beyond "Via Western Union, "Via Anglo, or "Via Direct."
Anyone care to suss out exactly what the difference is among those? What do you suppose qualified as "beyond" back then?
"Anglo" is AAT, Anglo American Telegraph. Laid the second England-America cable, after the first one failed. Wound up in 1968 after they lost the Western Union contract.

That suggests to me that "direct" "western union" and "anglo" all meant the same thing, and that there must have also been some indirect route that didn't use an AAT transatlantic cable.
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:52 PM
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Addresses, I think, used to be much less formal, and might be thought of more as instructions for reaching somebody than as a formatted protocol such as might be filled in in a form online.
Amusingly, I think exactly the same thing could be said of email addresses.
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Old 02-24-2019, 06:44 AM
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"Anglo" is AAT, Anglo American Telegraph. Laid the second England-America cable, after the first one failed. Wound up in 1968 after they lost the Western Union contract.

That suggests to me that "direct" "western union" and "anglo" all meant the same thing, and that there must have also been some indirect route that didn't use an AAT transatlantic cable.
Thanks.

You people are so danged smart.
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“Our government may at some time be in the hands of a bad man. When in the hands of a good man it is all well enough.” But “we ought to have our government so shaped that even when in the hands of a bad man we shall be safe.” Frederick Douglass
  #41  
Old 02-24-2019, 08:20 AM
Baal Houtham is offline
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Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
[...] Some time in 60's a letter was delivered to Mad Magazine with no address other than a picture of Alfred E Neuman pasted on the envelope. There were no computer read addresses in those days, and even less so in Paladin's time.
There may have been earlier instances, but I’m currently looking at the June 1970 issue which features something similar in its letters dept.

At the top of the column, labeled “Addressee Known”, is a photo of an envelope featuring a large cut-out image of Alfred E, a postmarked stamp (FDRoosevelt), a Washington state return addy, and (in the lower right corner) a zip code.

That 10022 is a definite buzz killer.

The caption:
Looks like the U.S. Post Office Dept. has gone “MAD.” Dave Slater, of Richland, Wash., sent his subscription renewal in this envelope, and it got to us without a mark.—Ed.

By circuitous circumstance, that issue of Mad has been sitting on the the tank of my basement toilet for four months.
  #42  
Old 02-24-2019, 06:22 PM
Melbourne is offline
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Originally Posted by whitetho View Post
Well, I messed up that reply. On further review, the symbol indicates communities, not hotels, with telegraph offices.

However, I was able to find a few references at the California Digital Newspaper Collection site. At this time the two main U.S. telegraph companies were Western Union and Postal Telegraph (which, despite its similar name, was a private company unrelated to the U.S. Postal Service): Hotel La Vista Grande, Monrovia, 1903, Tremont Hotel, Red Bluff, 1904, Clarendon Hotel, Los Angeles, 1875 where "The Western Union Telegraph Offices communicate with the Reading Room", Blackman House, Los Angeles, 1875 (which became the Grand Central Hotel), and another Grand Central Hotel, Tabor City, 1875.
Hmmmmm. I said "swank hotel", but actually I picture Paladin more as an upper-class commercial traveller, not a millionaire businessman.
  #43  
Old 02-25-2019, 10:29 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I love "HANDCUFFS, LONDON"!
A fictional private detective agency, in a few of the P.G. Wodehouse novels, was conducted by one Percy Pilbeam in the Picadilly Circus neighborhood.

Wire PILGUS PICCY, LONDON.

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  #44  
Old 02-26-2019, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
A fictional private detective agency, in a few of the P.G. Wodehouse novels, was conducted by one Percy Pilbeam in the Picadilly Circus neighborhood.

Wire PILGUS PICCY, LONDON.

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