Will you switch on the light please?

Back when I was a kid we were taught to appreciate things. The small (fifteen houses at the time small) community where I grew up in was among the last communities in the area to receive electricity and telephones, let alone running water. We read books and comics by kerosene lantern, and cuddled by the wood stove to warm up.

I still remember the day that our house was hooked up to the power.

My dad and a few of his friends wired our house. It would be funny to have one of today’s electrical inspectors to drop by and inspect the wiring. Seeing how none of my dad’s friends nor he himself had a clue about wiring, let’s just say we were lucky not to have caught fire. When the wires were all run from the fuse box to all the switches, my dad was ecstatic. Like little soldiers, we all lined up for the magic. Dad flipped the switch, and like magic, the room didn’t light up.

A few tinkers with the wires later and we anxiously awaited to be boosted into the twentieth century. When he cracked the switch, the once dark (hey, he started wiring at 8 in the morning, and now it was eight in the evening) room burst into light. Everyone  clapped their hands (Mom, Dad, me, my baby brother, and all the neighbors who had gathered to witness the event) and cheered. Wow!

Whenever anyone visited, my dad would run to the switch and say “Just wait and see what happens when I flip the switch, it’s like magic!” He was like a kid in a candy store!

Eventually everyone else in the community had their houses wired, and we all got a chance to enjoy the luxuries of electricity. Mom bought an electric mixer, and we all had cake for desert, and dad purchased the most wonderful piece of electric technology….the hot water tank.

Prior to electricity, the only way we could enjoy a hot bath was for my dad to light the wood stove, which heated an  old  tank my dad had found at a garbage dump. In order to enjoy a hot bath, you had to cook the life out of yourself and everyone else in the house. (and this was at least better than boiling large pots of water on the stove and pouring them into a tub)

Like I said before, we appreciated things, and we took nothing for granted.

My parents haven’t changed though.My dad just had his house rewired. The guy who did the wiring was amazed that the house wasn’t already a pile of ashes. Wires tied together and covered with scotch tape, or no tape at all were a common sight. With the new wiring in place, my dad was quick to buy his latest tool for the shed, a welder.

Talking about welders, he bought one a few years back, and with the clumsy wiring job in the house, you can imagine how many fuses he blew. If you can’t, try 63 fuses to weld his utility trailer. Hey you do what you have to I guess.

It is funny how we take things for granted each day.  Flipping on a switch always turns on a light, or else we cuss and swear. Flushing the toilet? That is supposed to work all the time. I still  remember leaving the house on cold December evenings, armed with catalog paper in hand, and heading to the outhouse 30 feet through knee high snow to do my business; and we were the lucky ones! Some people had to walk even further!

I guess that’s why I have learned to appreciate even the smaller things in life. Mom and Dad raised us well!

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One thought on “Will you switch on the light please?

  1. Having memories like these DO make you appreciate things in life and also, I think, make you resilient and tough!

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