If a "vamp" gets you, it's "30." This is also from the San Francisco
Chronicle, 12 March 1919, pg. 18, cols. 6-7:
WHAT "30" SIGNIFIES
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!
X X X