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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/56

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

names of the participants and the essential facts, and then hastening with all possible speed to the editorial rooms. Late at night few horse cars were running (then the trolley-car was unknown), and rarely was it possible to secure cab or carriage on the scene of action; so getting a good story often meant a long, steady trot for many blocks before the editorial rooms were reached. To-day a reporter can prepare his copy on the premises, walk to the nearest telephone, talk it to an assistant in the editorial rooms who typewrites it as it comes over the wire, and the 'scoop' or 'story' is on the street in less time than the reporter of 1876 would have consumed in riding or running to his office. And with the aid of the telephone, the city editor in the large cities often makes many assignments without seeing the respective reporters for days at a time. In fact, in the larger cities, certain reporters now communicate by telephone with the editorial rooms every half hour while on duty, and only visit the main office to draw their salaries.

After March 1, continuous day and night service was given. During the first week one boy operator, Louis H. Frost, son of the treasurer, was the sole operating force; then Julian Cramer was added; on March 1 Fred A. Allen was employed; and later came Charles W. Dow. The night operator received a salary of $15 a month, and worked from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Incidentally it may be added that Mr. Allen and Mr. Dow are still employed in the New Haven telephone exchange, and that Mr. Frost is in the livery business in that city.

In building his subscriber-lines, Mr. Coy erected very few poles during the first four months. The grounded-iron circuits were supported on brackets fastened to the sides and roofs of buildings, and to trees, the owners of the property usually making no charge for this right of way. Owing to this method of suspension no two spans of wire were the same in length, and slack wire was in evidence the year through. Hence, it was only natural that the talking qualities of these circuits should never be very good, and invariably be very low whenever these wire festoons were swayed by the wind against tin roofs, or were grounded on wet roofs or on the dripping branches of trees.

Thus it naturally came about that on drizzling days the amount of shouting required on the part of subscribers striving to carry on a conversation with the aid of a single hand telephone was a source of much amusement to non-participants, and a probable cause of much profanity and ill-feeling to many users of the service. And all the blame was placed upon the little wooden telephone in place of the wretched construction and the circuits that were constantly being crossed or grounded on wet roofs or on the branches of trees. Had these early lines been built with all the care and under the engineering supervision now expended on the heavy copper metallic circuits,