Source: Scranton Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “When Time Was Valuable”
City of publication: Scranton, Pennsylvania
Date of publication: 10 December 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: none
|“When Time Was Valuable.” Scranton Tribune 10 Dec. 1901: p. 8.|
|McKinley funeral services (related events).|
|Leon Czolgosz; William McKinley; Alberto Santos-Dumont.|
When Time Was Valuable
HOW FIVE MINUTES MADE A DIFFERENCE.
An Incident Growing Out of President McKinley’s Funeral Which the
Principal in It Will Not Soon Forget—Came within an Ace of Losing a Wife.
A group of traveling men were discussing the assassination of President McKinley the other day when one of them said:
“Gentlemen—not to digress from the subject—but have any of you ever considered the value of five minutes?”
All answered in the negative.
“Well, I never considered it myself until the other day, when a friend of mine met with an experience which showed how precious five minutes can be under some circumstances. It was on the day the dead president was buried, when, as you remember the street cars and the telegraph ceased to operate for five minutes as a mark of respect for the martyred chief.
“My friend, whose home is in Washington, was engaged to be married to a young lady in Cincinnati. (I’ve never seen the lady, but it goes without saying that she is the sweetest girl in the world and all that sort of thing—they all are!) Her father is a very particular old gentleman and had not looked with favor on my friend’s suit. The couple had been engaged in secret for three years and it was only a month ago that the parental consent was secured.
“The young lady and her father were visiting friends near Annapolis and it was while there that he was prevailed upon to give in.
“Of course, they wanted to have the ceremony performed at once before father could change his mind and it was arranged to take place on the 19th of September—the day McKinley was buried.
ONLY TWO DAYS’ LEAVE.
“My friend travels through the
south for a New York house, whose busiest month is September, and he could only
get two days’ leave. He fixed his dates so that he would be in Baltimore, where
the wedding was to take place on the 19th and all arrangements for the affair
were perfected by letter.
“Well, the day of the wedding the groom-to-be came up from Richmond, where he was working, and stopped over in Washington to attend to some important business matters. The bride-to-be and father-in-law-to-be were to leave Annapolis for Baltimore on the 2.35 train, meet him at a hotel near the station, where the ceremony would be performed by a minister who would be in waiting, the three would then take the 4.50 train for Cincinnati.
“The business took more time than he had anticipated, and it was 15 minutes after 2 before he could break away and start for the train. He would have to catch the 2.35 train in order to be in Baltimore on time to meet his bride-elect and her father, and he did some tall hustling, I tell you.
“As I said before, the old gentleman is very particular; he is also very punctilious—one of those gentlemen of the old school whose eleventh commandment is ‘be punctual.’ He and his daughter would leave Annapolis at the same time my friend left Washington, and all three would arrive in Baltimore simultaneously. My friend knew that if he wasn’t in Baltimore to meet them when they arrived pater would be furious and, of course, break off the match. If he missed that 2.35 train he wouldn’t have any more chance of getting the girl than Czolgosz had of being pardoned.
“At 25 minutes past 2 he was on a trolley car going down Pennsylvania avenue, and, allowing for stops, would reach the B. and O. station at 2.30 and have five minutes to spare before the train pulled out. Confident of being on time he lit a cigar and was soon lost in contemplation of the great happiness in store for him.
THE CAR STOPPTD [sic].
“Suddenly the car stopped and remained
still longer than it was necessary to take on a passenger. He looked up and
saw a string of cars in front of him.
“‘What’s the matter?’ he asked the conductor excitedly, with his heart in his mouth.
“‘The cars are stopped for five minutes out of respect for the dead president,’ replied the conductor.
“He looked at his watch: it was half-past two! The train would leave in five minutes and he couldn’t possibly catch it now. What was he to do? Across the street was a telegraph office. Quick as a flash he conceived the idea of telegraphing to his fiance’s father before he left Annapolis informing him of his predicament. Of course, he realized that only by great good fortune could the message be delivered in time, but it was his only resource and he was desperate. In a moment he was inside the office, and scribbled a few lines on one of the blanks and handed it over the counter to the operator.
“‘Get this off at once—it’s a matter of life and death!’
“‘Sorry, sir, but the telegraph is shut off for five minutes out of respect——’
“‘But this is a matter——’
“‘Very sorry; but the current is off all over the country.’
“Beads of perspiration stood out on his brow. Visions of a gloomy future with no loving wife to cheer it rose up before him. There was no question of it—the girl was lost to him now beyond a doubt, and the boy felt pretty blue. He started to walk out of the office when a thought flashed through his brain that gave him a new lease on life. There was a possibility, he thought, that the Annapolis train might be delayed by reason of the heavy traffic on the railroads that day, and he might still be able to communicate with the girl’s father before it was too late.
“At last the clock in the office
pointed to twenty-five minutes to 3. The cars out in the street were clanging
their gongs and slowly moving off—click—click—click—the telegraph was again
at work and the noise of the sounders was the sweetest music he had ever heard.
“‘Hurry off my message!’ he blurted out to the operator, who already had his finger on the key, preparing to send the despatch [sic].
“‘Wait!’ said the operator, quickly. ‘Annapolis is calling now!’
“He gave the answer to the call and threw in his switch; after a slight pause the sounder started off again at a lively rate.
“The operator listened for a moment, then glanced hurriedly at the copy my friend had given him and exclaimed with surprise:
“‘Why, it’s for you, sir!’
“‘For me? Great—what is it—quick!’ he gasped, dumbfounded.
“These are the words the operator called out as fast as the instrument clicked them off.
“My friend stood stock still for a moment, hardly able to believe his own ears. Then he let out a whoop that would have done credit to a Comanche Indian, and, tossing a bill to the operator, danced out of the office.
“Talk about walking on air; why, he had Santos-Dumont beat to death!
“After he had collected himself and come down to earth again he wired his sweetheart asking for full particulars concerning her father’s illness. The an- [sic] answer informed him that the old gentleman had been attacked with vertigo while waiting at the station, causing them to miss the train, but it had soon passed off and he was as well as ever.
“Well, the wedding took place the next day, and you can safely wager my friend did not take any more chances with street cars or telegrams. That little experience he had on the 19th was one he won’t forget very soon, and it taught him something of the value of time, which will make him appreciate ever yminutes [sic] in the day hereafter.”