July 27, 1908
Mayor Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr., was calling on friends last night, when he received this telephone message:
"This is Whelan of the Post-Dispatch. I am at the Hotel Baltimore. Can you come down here a few minutes for a little conference in regard to Mr. Cowherd's candidacy?"
The mayor replied that it would be impossible for him to get away at that time, but that he might be able to get to the hotel by 10:45 o'clock.
"All right, that will do. Come down then. We will be here," Mr. Bernheimer said to the mayor.
"I see you are," said the mayor; "but why aren't you home in bed?"
"Home in bed? Why, your secretary called me up a while ago and said you wanted me to meet you here at the Baltimore hotel, as you wanted to discuss a very important matter with me."
"Well, that's the first I had heard of that. This is quit a surprise to me. I came down here to find a Mr. Whelan."
At this juncture a reporter for The Journal stepped up to Mayor Crittenden and asked:
"Mayor, what significance is there in the political conference held here tonight?"
"What political conference?" demanded the mayor.
"Why, between you and Joe Shannon and Mr. Bernheimer and others."
"I haven't seen Joe Shannon tonight. There was no political conference. Mr. Bernheimer is a Republican and -- say," and a light seemed to break in on the mayor, "let's get together here. How did you come to asked me about a political conference anyway?"
"The city editor sent me over. He said someone had telephoned to the office that a conference was on between you and some Shannon Democrats and so I came over to find out about it."
The mayor glanced around the hotel to see if he could discern a practical "joker" in the crowd.
"Somebody has been playing a joke," said his honor, "but I can't see any one in this crowd who looks like a joker."
"Nor can I," said Bernheimer, disgustedly.
Then the mayor and Bernheimer walked out in the lobby arm-in-arm.
At intervals for several years the "joker" who uses the telephone to further his humorous ideas has played pranks on public officials, newspaper men and others. Probably the most persistent case occurred during the campaign of 1904. A well known business man, who occasionally goes in for silk stocking politics, took an active part in the campaign that year. He established a Hearst headquarters at his own expense, published pamphlets and flooded the Western country with literature favorable to his candidate. One night, about 11 o'clock, he appeared in the office of the city editor of The Journal.
"Well, I'm here," he said, without any other introduction whatever.
"So I see," was the reply. "What can I do for you?"
"Don't you want to see me? Didn't you telephone my home for me to call at the office tonight?"
"I certainly did not," was the answer.
"Well, that's funny," and he pulled his stubby beard, perplexedly.
A few nights later this same man inquired of the clerk at the Hotel Baltimore if W. C. Whitney was in his room. He was told that Mr. Whitney was not registered at that hotel.
"Why, he telephoned out to my house for me to meet him here."
A week later this same man journeyed to the depot to meet Mr. Hearst, who was, according to a telephone message, laying over for an hour between train He couldn't find Mr Hearst anywhere. Finally he adopted the plan of making no appointments by telephone except with people whose voices he knew.