THE TELEGRAPH


In the nineteenth century, Samuel Finley Breese Morse
Invented the landline telegraph, communications workhorse,

Western Union, all railroads, Associated and United Press thrived,
Long-distance services used apparatus and the code that Sam devised,

I came along in nineteen fifty-four, right out of school,
Entered the world of telegraphy, Union Pacific's book of rules,

At the first place I worked with division old-time brass pounders,
This fledgling operator found a bank of mainline sounders,

Each one of those wire monitors had a distinctive voice,
Some stations had several circuits so operators had a choice

Of which wire to call you on, the "cocktail-party effect"
Allowed recognizing the station calling, then you'd switch to a sounder near your neck,

One idiosyncrasy of telegraph wires occurred
At the distant end of a circuit, when far away stations were heard,

They sounded fainter than those closer to you, up and down the line,
A distant one might be hard to read while neighbors sounded just fine,

No one remembers those of us who cut their teeth on Morse
By copying text and sending telegrams, blow-by-blows, too, of course

Are now long-dead prizefight descriptions, unheard of in boxing today,
All the silent keys are gone -- museum pieces they.

                                                           by D. Edgar Murray