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No More Western Union Telegrams

Last Thursday, the day First Data Corp. announced its reorganization, Western Union announced it was out of the telegram business.

We understand the logic. Who sends telegrams in a world of emails and instant messaging? And though the company doesn’t say so, it’s hardly likely that the telegram business, on which the company was founded in 1851–as the Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company–was a profit center. Dropping the business just made sense for a global payments company that makes $4 billion a year.

Still, it’s a melancholy milestone, in observation of which we share with you our favorite Western Union story:

Life Magazine was doing a story about Cary Grant in the 1950s and, not knowing his age, sent him a telegram reading “How old Cary Grant?” Grant replied “Old Cary Grant fine. How you?” (Contact: Western Union, 303-967-6416)