Here’s a name I’d not heard much before, but whose memoirs I am excited to find, now: Albert Chandler was one of Lincoln’s “Sacred Three” telegraph operators, and given the anecdotes proferred in this article, he was party to many of Lincoln’s tall tales and humourous stories. There’s a novel to be written (or possibly has been already) about Lincoln’s time in the telegraph office!
The Sacred Three deciphered each message and wrote it out in longhand, using a piece of carbon paper. The originals were dispatched to the appropriate offices and the carbon copies filed in a drawer in the order they arrived.
Lincoln kept abreast of all communications by reading the messages from the top down, in reverse chronological order. When he hit a message he had already read, Lincoln would say, “Well, I guess I have got down to the raisins.” When Chandler asked Lincoln what he meant, the president said it was the punch line of a story he’d heard about a girl who had overeaten one day. The binge had started with some raisins and ended with the girl becoming ill and starting to throw up. Eventually the girl exclaimed that her suffering was almost at an end, as she had “got down to the raisins.”