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Virginia Utermohlen on: Young Marconi Operators
Virginia Utermohlen Q: Tell me about this breed of young boys, like Binns, who become wireless operators. What's in it for them? What attracts them? What are they about?

VU: Well, they were young boys who were fascinated by this new technology and were adventurous types who wanted to go see the world. They had a boyish sense of fun, too. They played jokes on each other all the time. They had this vision of the world, that it was going to be an amazing wonderful place and they were going to be part of creating that place.

These young wireless operators were dashing, first of all, they had uniforms which makes any young man quite dashing. They were clearly on the cutting edge of technology in the future. They were young, they were carefree, they tended to travel a lot, they had a lot of appeal to young women, and so it wasn't surprising that indeed they were appealing. And there is no question, one of the things Binnsy had was a charming smile and a very warm personality, with his sparkly blue eyes and it was irresistible.

Q: They took on an importance beyond their years, didn't they? I mean sort of businessmen secrets and lovers' liaisons, secrets. Tell me about all that.

VU: Well the messages that were sent concerned business, they concerned world politics, they concerned love liaisons, and they were sworn to secrecy. And they had the power, in a sense, to reveal things that the people in the world didn't want to have revealed. And yet one of their other important characteristics was that they did not reveal these messages. They were duty-bound but also honor-bound to keep the secrets of the messages that they transmitted.

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