The Singing Telegramby Tyler Woods on Feb. 14, 2013, under Arts
Oh the wonders of Valentine’s day. It has got to be greeting cards number one biggest day. Flowers are purchased, candy is brought, and sweet nothings are whispered in each others ear. There are so many things a person can do for this day of lovers it got me thinking…
It used to be people did not have telephones, little long cell phones or computers. Getting urgent messages to people was difficult and could take a while. Then in 1837, inventors created the telegram which is a message sent over a distance using a device called a telegraph and hand delivered by a courier. In 1851, Western Union was born and built its first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861.
Important to get a brief history of the telegram because it changed the way we communicated. It also changed the way we sent very special greetings in 1933. That is because it was the first time a singing telegram was sent. In the past, when the courier came with that yellow piece of paper, it meant something might have gone wrong, like a death. George P. Oslin, who at the time was the Western Union public relations director, decided to send a singing telegram from a fan of a movie star. Interestingly enough, the person that delivered the first singing telegram as a Western Union operator named Lucille Lipps.
Many people thought it was great fun to send a message this way and birthday wishes, anniversaries and yes Valentine messages were sent via singing telegram. The bottom line, if you were the recipient of a singing telegram, you would smile, laugh, and have a memory for a lifetime. Well that was until 1974, when Western Union suspended the service.
Fear not young lovers of singing telegrams. Western Union has decided to bring back the singing telegram. No, it is not couriers or operators delivering the song. We seem to be so much more modern than that. Western Union launched a website where customers can record and send their own karaoke-style audio messages to family and friends via email.
I know it just isn’t the same. I choose not to even call that singing telegram and in fact, a service that anyone can do with their computer. However, there are services that still do live come to your door singing telegrams, just make sure you have the money to dole out.
Indeed, once upon a time ago, singing telegrams could make Valentine’s day more romantic, more special, but those days are gone. I suppose what that means is if we want something done, we will have to do it ourselves. So excuse me while I go put my red on, and go sing to my special valentine. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.