On this day (June 2) in 1896, Guglielmo Marconi filed British Patent No. 12,039 for “Improvements in Transmitting Electrical Impulses and Signals, and an Apparatus Therefor,” inaugurating the era of wireless telegraphy and making the Italian engineer’s name synonymous with the magic of “ship-to-shore” communication.
Sometimes, that magic was dark, the most haunting example being distress calls from the doomed Titanic in the early morning of April 15, 1912 that rescued those lucky enough to survive the sinking. But more often, it was tinged with romance, as Clara Louise Robertson experienced after a tour of Europe in 1930. The 22-year-old Louisville, Kentucky native was aboard the RMS Cedric, headed home to complete her studies at the University of Louisville. While in Europe, she had become friends with Laszlo Gombos, a young Hungarian lawyer, and he was clearly smitten. “Maybe you will forget me soon,” he had written earlier, “but I want to emphasize that I myself shall neither forget you nor shall I change my opinion on you.” His hope was to find a job in the American South, and if successful he intended to meet her “immediately” upon his arrival. But until then, there was the “Marconigram,” delivered from “Lancelot” to his Guinevere: Pleasant journey kindest regards.
Clara Louise Robertson’s Marconigram is part of the collections of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections. Click here for a finding aid. For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.