Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Telegram is No More

No, not the Press Telegram. And thankfully not the Daily Telegraph, either. I mean the Western Union thingummy that frightened your grandmother so much when one was delivered because it meant bad news. We learned today that Western Union is no longer going to send round a boy in a peaked cap to deliver a written message at 10 cents a word, not counting the tip for the boy. It says so in The Times this morning right here. So another tradition (and the memory and meaning of a key moment in hundreds of wonderful old movies) vanishes down the memory hole.

If you click on that link to The Times you'll find that the piece ends with a few samples of memorable telegrams in history. But it doesn't include my favourite: Apparently Cary Grant was on location in France for a film when the studio wanted to confirm his age. In a thrifty mood and mindful of the per-word charge, the studio sent him a telegram: "How old Cary Grant". To which Grant responded: "Old Cary Grant fine. How you."