Sharing this re-creation of the art once delivered via wire-service teletype machines to media newsrooms around the nation during the quiet hours of Christmas Eve has become my annual way of delivering holiday greetings to those who have been kind enough to allow Flynn's Harp into their email 'bag' each week. The celebration of Christmas is not shared by all of my friends. In fact, those friends have, to my good fortune, become a varied array of national origins and religions. But the values that Christmas embodies for those who cherish it transcend national or religious differences and should be shared and cherished by all with this season as a reminder.
Holiday teletype art: greetings from communications era pastIn the days before computers, wire service teletype machines clacked away in newspaper and broadcast newsrooms around the nation and the world, bringing the news from all points to local media outlets.
But in the quiet of the Christmas holiday in years past, in the offices of AP and United Press International, the teletype paper coming from the teletype printers would be graced with holiday art.
For those of us who at an early stage in our careers had a turn with the lonely Christmas Eve or overnight vigil in the UPI offices as older writers got to spend time with their families, the holiday art created and transmitted by teletype operators is one of the special memories of working for that now-dead company.
The x's, o's, (or more frequently dollar signs and exclamation marks) appeared a line at a time on the teletype paper until images of Christmas trees, Santa Claus, holly wreaths, etc., took shape.
The uniqueness of the tree below is the Christmas greeting delivered in nearly 50 languages.
Over the years I've been sending this, the art has stirred memories for those among the recipients of this weekly missive who once worked in newspaper or broadcast newsrooms and recalled watching those creations emerge onto the rolls of teletype paper.
It also served as a reminder of earlier days for those in other industries who once used teletype machines for transmission of information, including one who recalled the occasionally flawed keystrokes that occurred when the creation of the art followed holiday parties.
Since each year brings new names to the list of those receiving Flynn's Harp, there are some who haven't previously seen the art. For that reason, and because fond memories are served by repetition, here is the annual sharing of this Christmas art.
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