Mrs. Bella B. Toner, agent, New Centerville.
We also see her at the old tape Instrument, one of the last two on the
Woman, 70, Served R. R. Half Century
New Centerville Telegrapher Still Sticks to Old Ticker
SEVENTY years old and holding the
distinction of being the oldest woman telegraph operator in the country, Mrs.
Bella B. Toner has spent fifty-one years—or more than two-thirds of her life—as
station agent for the Reading Company at New Centerville, on the Philadelphia-Chester
An ancient "tape" telegraph
instrument — so ancient the Reading Company boasts of only one other like it
in hundreds of stations on the railroad—is used by Mrs. Toner to send and
years this white-haired woman, the mother of three children, all long since
grown up and with families of their own, has been employed by the railroad. As
station agent she has handled all baggage, messages, tickets and the other
duties that fall to the lot of a village railroad representative.
Mrs. Toner married at the age of 17,
and her home and the station have always been one. The first floor is
divided into two rooms—the ticket office, where the tape telegraph ticker
reposes, and the waiting room.
A quaint story
revolves about the venerable "ticker." Years ago the railroad
introduced a new instrument into the office, but Mrs. Toner, after a trial,
declared she could not master it, so it was removed and the old machine
approaching Mrs. Toner has turned her attention to the twenty-five fat hens and
a pedigreed rooster which are her pride and joy. Her garden patch is also
receiving its quota of care. During the winter the aged station mistress knits
and crochets during her odd moments.
She is not alone in her railroad
service, for the wife of one of her sons is station mistress at King of
Prussia, just below New Centerville, and another son holds a position with the Pennsylvania
Chickens are her pets Mrs. Toner also spends her spare time at work in
--Evening Public Ledger, March 26.