Along the Santa Fe Chapter 1 page 6
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Learning Telegraphy

I really enjoyed the summer on the ranch, but was glad when summer was over and I could go back home and go to school again. Shortly before school started, Father sold his place on Wright Street and purchased a home on French Street, a half block from the First Street School. By this time I was in the eighth grade, and was beginning to get restless and wanted to quit school and go to work. I did get a job as Janitor for the Telephone Company, working on Saturdays and after school. I held this job about two months, then went to work in a butcher shop delivering meat after school and on Saturday. This job paid me three dollars a week. There was an ex-railroad telegraph operator and auditor who lived across the street from us. He had opened up a telegraph school uptown, and called it "The Capitol City Railway and Telegraph Institute." He offered me free tuition if I would do the janitor work at the school. He painted a pretty rosy picture of the future of railroading, and I got quite interested, and finally decided to quit school and my job at the meat market and attend this school.

The course in telegraphy was supposed to take about six months, and it was quite interesting. I had just turned sixteen at the time, and stuck to it for about five months. I got so I could read the telegraph pretty good, but as I was too young to get a job on the railroad as a telegrapher (you had to be at least 18 years of age), I had a chance to get a job as a messenger boy at the local Western Union Telegraph office at a salary of $10.00 per month and tips and extra pay for delivering telegrams outside the free delivery limits. So I took this job, figuring I could keep up my telegraph work besides earning a little money.

I liked my job at the telegraph office and got quite a lot of practice in. I got to running around with several other boys my age, and we would play pool, and also I learned to smoke cigarettes. There was a boys lodge in town called "The Coming Men of American." We joined up and tried to make a go of it, it was something like the "Boy Scout Movement", but never could get over about a dozen boys interested, so it didn't last very long.

After working six months for the Western Union, I quit and started to business college, taking up a bookkeeping course, which was to take six months. This course was quite interesting and I liked going to business college; there were some pretty nice young men and women attending. One young man named "Walter Johnson"used to spend the noon hour pitching ball. He was a quite a pitcher, and just before graduation he was offered a job with some big ball team up north, so he quit school and went to playing ball. Later he became one of the greatest pitchers in the Major Leagues.

A few days before graduation, the agent for the Santa Fe Railway Company called me up and said he had heard I could telegraph and wanted to know if I would accept a job as apprentice telegraph operator. The job paid $20.00 per month for the first year and $25.00 for the second year, and would pay $5.00 per month bonus for every month I worked until I graduated from apprentice to a regular telegraph job. This sounded good to me, so I thanked him and told him that I would report as soon as the business school was out.


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