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Edna May Twente Hough
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Birth: Sep. 30, 1918
Death: Jul. 16, 2011

Edna May Hough, 92, of Independence, Missouri, passed away July 16, 2011 at Glendale at the Mansion. Visitation will be held from 10:00-11:00 a.m. followed by funeral services at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, July 23, at Mt. Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home, 10507 Holmes Road, Kansas City, Missouri. Interment in Mt. Moriah Cemetery South. Memorial contributions may be made at Crossroads Hospice, 9237 Ward Parkway, #300, Kansas City, Missouri, 64114-3347. Mrs. Hough was born September 30, 1918 in Napoleon, Missouri, daughter of Armin and Ada (Messersmith) Twente. She had worked as an accountant in the banking industry. She was preceded in death by her husband. She is survived by her brother Elden Twente of Independence, Missouri, extended family and friends. Condolences may be offered at Arrangements under the direction of Mount Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home, Kansas City, MO.

Published in Kansas City Star on July 20, 2011

When I started at the bank, at age 18, Edna kind of scared me. She was the department's drill sergeant LOL. Math tells me now that she was 50 then. None of us ever really knew how old Edna was. For years and years and years, she never changed. She was short, walked really fast wherever she was going, worked really hard, and didn't mess around. She had little patience for anyone who gave less. But when Edna thought something was funny, she had the most wonderful cackle of a laugh that would fill the whole room.And she used to cackle every time someone told this story, so today, I'm sharing this story with the world, and as you read it, please listen closely for her cackling in the background.

Back in the late 60's and early 70's, most of the check processing in the bank was done manually. Lots of Ladies (wearing skirts and blouses... before even pantsuits were allowed in the workplace), would sit all day at lots of machines in this big room, dropping in one check at a time and entering the amount of each one on a ten-key pad. Some of those machines just encoded the amounts on the bottom right edges of the checks, producing an adding machine tape of all the amounts the operator had entered. All of the checks ended up down at the end of the machine in one big batch. When the batch was big enough, the operator would total out the machine, tear off the tape, fold it up, and rubber band the checks with the tape on top, and send it on to the "Checkers". On these machine, speed and accuracy were all-important. If anything was "out of balance", the "checkers" would have to cross check everything to find and correct any errors.

But then, there was a handful of special machines (what were they called? 803s? maybe) that actually sorted the checks into different sort slots (aka pockets) down in the interior of the machine. On these machines, the operator had to be fast and accurate on the amounts, but also had to be quick about determining the destination of the check when it left the bank so as to select the correct pocket. Edna was one of the fastest and most accurate women at running these sorting machines. She would key in the amount of the check and punch a button to select the pocket the check should go into. The machine would spin its internal sorting drum until the correct pocket was in place to receive the check. Edna would then drop the check into the feed slot and the machine would grab it and drop it into the selected pocket. When a pocket filled up, Edna would remove the checks from that pocket, wrap up the bundled with the tape listing all those checks, and set it on top of her machine for other workers to come pickup and send to the indicated destination.

But when the bank first brought in these machines and assigned Edna to run one of them, there were problems. Occasionally, a check would come back from the destination as a missort. That would count as an error against Edna, and Edna was never very happy to hear about an error. She was getting a lot of errors back from her pocket 32 destination. It should have gone into pocket 1 or 2 or 3, way up at the top of the sort selection buttons, but for some reason, Edna and her machine were putting them into pocket 32, whose selection button was at the very bottom closest to the operator. And it was listed on the pocket 32 tape, so Edna had to have been selecting pocket 32. Edna had her sorts memorized and when these errors were shown to her, she swore up and down that she was not putting those checks into pocket 32. So the supervisor called IBM and had the repairman check to see if something was wrong with the machine.

Nope, everything checked out just fine. But the errors continued and Edna kept swearing she wasn't selecting them into pocket 32!!!! This went on a while, and after a few more checks of the machine, the IBM repairman, old Joe, asked if he could watch Edna run the machine and maybe catch the error when it happened. This is a good place to note that none of the other 803 operators were having this problem, just Edna.

So Joe watched. And it didn't take long to figure out what was happening. I told you Edna was short, remember? But I didn't tell you that Edna was very, well, large breasted :) and that was the problem. Being short AND busty, every once in a while when Edna was operating the machine, reaching way up to the top of the machine sort button board to punch pocket 1 or pocket 2 or pocket 3, her left breast would touch the 32 pocket button and change the destination of the check from whatever pocket she had selected to pocket 32.

Old Joe was a real gentlemen, old-fashioned even for those days, and there was no way old Joe was gonna say something like "Edna, your boob is punching button 32" LOL It must have been very awkward for him, poor guy. I never did actually hear how Joe delicately told Edna that her left boob was causing the problems, but for years and years and years, people told this story about Edna and the 803 machine. Love you Edna!

PS: Behind Edna's drill-sergeant facade was a very warm and caring person who was much loved by all who knew her.
- Deb

Mount Moriah Cemetery
Kansas City
Jackson County
Missouri, USA
Maintained by: Deb
Originally Created by: Mike Phillips
Record added: Jul 20, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 73649782
Edna May <i>Twente</i> Hough
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Shelley
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

When I started at the bank, at age 18, Edna kind of scared me. She was the department's drill sergeant LOL. Math tells me now that she was 50 then. None of us ever really knew how old Edna was. For years and years and years, she never changed. She was sho...(Read more)
- Deb
 Added: Aug. 27, 2012

 Added: Jul. 20, 2011

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