Most people today would agree that I was raised in a large family. I came into this world in 1940,the seventh of ten children, and never heard my parents complain of having too many children. Having a large family could be beneficial in working a farm during the Great Depression that lasted at our farm in Nacogdoches county a few years longer than history records.
Right after World War 2, the Rural Electric Administration (REA) connected entire communities to their power lines and these communities were then connected to the rest of the world and a better way of life. It was fun saying good by to the kerosene lamp and hello to the electric lights that allowed us to pick out a sticker from our finger at night after supper.
The U. S. war effort had caused no meters to be made so no meters were installed at any house in our area of Nacogdoches county. With no meter, a jumper plug made the connection in the open meter base about seven feet high on our house which was very dangerous to have high voltage with no meter covering the plug. We had this situation a few months until REA installed the meter.
In the several months without meters, each household paid $2.40 per month but with only light bulbs and no appliances, we couldn’t use many kilowatts anyway. When meters began to be installed the community churches still didn’t get one with REA believing churches could not use much . After electric irons made the scene, we knew of churches who held all day “ironings” for the ladies to bring irons and clothing to the church and iron to avoid running their bills up at home. The nice folks getting a good deal here looked at it like this : The Lord now has electricity in His House and He has plenty of it (a powerful God) and is not stingy with his blessings,so He is pleased with our gathering as we share in the Almightys’s power. If you really want to do a thing, justifying it is easier than ironing a pair of khakis.
We seven brothers knew little about electricity but were willing to learn. Pretty soon my thirteen year old brother Raymond allowed his curiosity to lead him to perform an experiment that served as a learning moment for all us brothers. It was time to test the effects of electricity on our frog gig. We kept our gig under the house right near the meter base so he jammed the gig into the electrical connection and fire flew in all directions accompanied by a loud frying sound and concluded with a “pop” and smoke arose from the transformer right above our peach tree. Raymond, after regaining his composure and seeing we had no power, began to mentally exercise the question of what to do about Daddy. No story would fit. No exaggeration would do. No one else could be blamed. He had acted alone. He had made his bed and now must face Daddy with the truth. Maybe he could have dreamed up a tale to reduce his guilt(as he normally could have), but for one thing -our frog gig was “welded” to the meter plug with the wood handle scorched and our lights were out.
When Daddy got home and found his sons telling him about Raymond and his recent crime, he must have been so thankful to have his son alive and his house still standing that Raymond got only a stern warning and was allowed to keep his skin for sitting purposes.
Within a few days R.E.A workers replaced the burned up equipment and restored our service without charge (no pun. ) We were without lights for a few days and the local frogs could frolic without fear of us until we acquired new hunting equipment. No one told the R.E.A servicemen what caused our outage, but seeing a yard full of boys and a gig hanging out of the meter base, they may have just figured it out by themselves.
Story submitted by: John Stanaland