Rick Houser:
Maybe only the time was good

While I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s I would from time to time see a commercial for electric on the television. I think it was a short infomercial about how greatly our world has advanced that the ultimate home that we could hope for was a gold medallion home. Then they would show a home that was fully electric and on the front of the home was a for real gold medallion. Until then I had never seen or heard of one but there it was right there on the screen in full view and in real black and white. How could it not be so?

Rick Houser

In our home we heated with a coal burning stove. Also our cook stove was fueled by propane gas. We didn’t have any air conditioning or even a fan for that matter. With just a glance I could see we weren’t living in a gold medallion home and I was pretty certain we never would. This short coming let down only got to me a few moments but I have to admit the commercial was very neat to watch. It was the first time I had seen a dishwasher or a micro wave oven.

Now as the years passed by and I grew older advancements in our society continued to keep on advancing and at a rate that was almost too fast to believe. In the late 80’s my wife and I bought a home near Bethel and I have since come to the realization that we own a full electric home as they are pretty common now. The truth is I never really gave it much thought. Probably I need that gold medallion on the house so I would be impressed. But over the last thirty years of residing here I truly didn’t give it a thought.

That is until the other day when a stormy day with high gusting winds knocked the electric out of our area. We then in a slow motion way began to realize one appliance after another was operated by electric. Since it was a Saturday I was at home along with my wife. Also it was about 65 degrees outside so the home didn’t lose heat very fast. Also Sharon had just finished baking a ham so we had hot food as the electric went out shortly after noon.

At first we called our loved ones to see how they were doing and found all were doing OK. Then we talked to each other for at least an hour or so before we tired of that. I will say though that as the hours passed by and the house remained in the shadows and the home was silent and we were without television I began to come to the reality that no matter how I said I would never have made a good pioneer.

Nope I just wouldn’t have survived very well at all. The truth is I like living with and using all of today’s modern conveniences. Being a person who loves to recall how life was I find that probably is the main part of what I like. Recalling is one thing but returning is a term I want no part of. I like our kuerieg coffee maker. I use the micro wave without giving it a second thought. Our cook stove is all electric as is the washing machine and dryer. A large screen television calls us to view it probably more than we should. Quite possibly the only place we have cut back on is our iron. I can’t say I’ve seen it in the last decade or longer. (God bless permanent press!)

It is safe to say I have learned the new way and have ridden the new wave into the future with great ease. But the day the lights went out in our home slowly went from a brief inconvenience to a prolonged period of realizing we didn’t have access to all we were used to. As the day moved into the evening and of course this time of year it becomes dark very early we debated on what we should do. So we decided to turn in for the night and go to bed. All I could think of was the expression of early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise. (I was anything but sold on it.)

I do remember that the electric company brought electric to Fruit Ridge Road in 1947. Two years before my arrival. So I have never been without one of the most major additions to the improvement of our living. Since my dad was an electrician I saw him wire homes for folks who were hooking up to the wonder of electric for the first time. So while I laid in bed really not ready for a good night’s sleep yet I thought of just how it must have been like back in the day. I have heard my sister and brother tell of how when it was bed time for them they had to carry a lighted kerosene lamp up the stairs to their room and blow out the light and climb into a bed surrounded in total darkness. Ben always said Peg wasn’t afraid of the dark but she was of the fire. So he said he had to light the lamp and carry it up the stairs and blow it out for his sister to feel safe. (always the hero!)

The truth is I can’t imagine being in total darkness. I know that in my junior high years my dad installed a mercury vapor light on a pole behind the house. This illuminated the area around the house and served as a night light so that we could move throughout the house without tripping over or bumping into anything, and maybe the first big luxury we ever had.

It wasn’t but a brief time after we went to bed that the power returned to the house and we both gave a cheer of relief and happiness. Now our time as pioneers was only eight hours but I will tell you all this. It was long enough for me to decide I am more than willing to stay with this generation and all it has to offer. Not having television? FORGET IT!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.