In 1918, the equipment operated by AB Stockholmstelefon, which until then was owned by SAT, was purchased by Televerket, the Swedish PTT, and the company’s employees became civil servants. To protect their rights, top-ranking salaried employees decided to form an association, which was named the S.T. Society after their former employer, Stockholmstelefon.
The principal issue in negotiations with the public telegraph service concerned the right of salaried employees to retain their titles and service ranks, which meant being retained as permanent employees. Thanks to skilled negotiators and the strength provided by representing all top-ranking salaried employees, the negotiations were successful. After a few years, all demands had been accepted.
The Society was undoubtedly assisted by AB Stockholmstelefon’s last president, Karl Fredrik Wincrantz. One of the board’s first decisions was to make him an honorary member, at which time he was also presented with a silver cigar box filled with El Zelo cigars.
The S.T. Society was soon opened to other salaried employees of the public telegraph service. Through this decision, more than 80 new members were added.
In the early 1920s, the annual dinner became one of the society’s primary activities. These events appear to have been lively occasions. Photographs show jovial gentlemen and elated ladies in comical party hats. The average age was relatively low.
At the annual dinners, guests enjoyed a smorgasbord with warm entrés, beer, schnaps and coffee. Eating was constantly interrupted by speeches, songs and spontaneous sketches. Dress could be either a dark or a light suit, with or without a vest, with a normal or a standing collar, and a straight or a bow tie. After dinner, there was dancing, socializing and entertainment, which in the early years consisted of a cabaret. This tradition ended in 1923, however, since “virtually all members talented in this area had moved abroad.” Perhaps it was the internationalization of telephony and the need for skilled workers from Sweden that was thus reflected in the S.T. Society’s activities.
In 1920, membership reached its peak of 231. As the society began to lose its character as an interest organization for salaried employees and became more of a social club, membership declined, even though membership was extended to all Ericsson employees. Six years later, a proposal was put forth by a group of office workers within Ericsson to broaden the S.T. Society and change its name. In the end, however, this group decided to form a new association, which was called the L.M.E. Society.
The S.T. Society celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1928 at Restaurant Metropol. This was the first time evening dress, meaning a tuxedo, was mandated, but this attire was retained throughout the greater part of the 1930s. Due to the economic and political climate, no festivities were arranged in 1939, and throughout the war, the society remained restrictive in organizing such activities.
In 1963, the aging members of the S.T. Society celebrated their 45th anniversary at Oxtorgskällaren in recognition of the fact that the restaurant was located in the same building on Oxtorgsgatan where SAT had begun its operations 80 years previously. Four years later, the annual dinner was held in another notable building, the newly opened Kaknästornet.
The last records in the archives are dated 1969 and consist of the traditional Christmas greeting to the members, who at that time numbered 97. What happened to the S.T. Society was not recorded and remains shrouded in mystery.
Author: Edward Blom