If a "vamp" gets you, it's "30." This is also from the San Francisco

Chronicle, 12 March 1919, pg. 18, cols. 6-7:


By frequent reference to it, noted by newspaper readers, doubtless the

meaning of that cabalistic symbol "30" has become familiar to many, but this

incident and explanation, printed in connection with the obsequies of Sir

Wilfred Laurier make an item in the Montreal La Patrie and is thence

translated: "What does that signify?" was asked by thousands who filed past

the casket of Sir Wilfred Laurier and had remarked the bouquet of flowers

upon which lay the symbol "30" in red figures. This floral tribute was given

by members of the press gallery in the Dominion Parliament. For them this

number means the same as the words which the great departed pronounced some

days after being stricken by his malady: "It is ended." (C'est fini.) The

origin of this conventional symbol has been lost in the traditions of

journalism, but here is what the older operators declare it was:

Many years ago the old Western Union Telegraph Company published a code

of signs for their operators. The figure "1," for example, signified "Wait a

minute"; the figure "3," the "I'm busy on a line"; the number "17," "I'm

sending an important message, it ought to have precedence," and so on until

finally "30" indicated the end of the message.

Journalists have never been able to devise a better symbol in all the

companies of the world having telegraph codes. After each night and at the

end of every day the conventional "30" traversed the continent from end to

end. Editors in time adopted the sign "30" to inform the staff of the

various news departments and the composing room that all the "copy" was

finished and that there would be nothing additional.

Finally, for newspaper men, the number "30" became the symbol of the end

of all things of earth, and even of life. For Sir Wilfred, the number "30"

meant "It is the end." For us, who every day collect the news of the entire

world, "30" signifies also "C'est fini."--Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Telegraph operators did "30"? O. K.!

However, the usual explanation of "30" is "xxx"--not "poison" or

"kisskisskiss," but as an endnote. Who knows what is correct? I'll have to

call Western Union!