You walk into your house today, flick a switch, and you expect a light to come on. You press a button on the remote control and you expect the TV to come on. There are many things you depend on electricity to do each day, from running your well pump if you live in the country to washing and drying your cloths. So, how did people get by before they got electricity? If you wanted a light you would get a match, go over to the kerosene lamp, lift the globe off, strike the match, light the wick, put the globe back on and adjust the flame for the best light.
There was a little knob on the side of the lamp that you could use to raise or lower the wick to adjust the amount of light the lamp put out. After several days of use the wick would get crusted over and would not burn very well. You would then have to roll the wick up higher and take the scissors and trim the crusted part off. This was known as trimming the lamp. If you went from one room to another, you would take the lamp with you. This kept the family together. This may also be where the term “Family togetherness” originated.
Now, I will allow that some people had more than one lamp and could spread out over the house, but we didn’t. For entertainment we had an old hand cranked victrola, or a record player as it would be called today. It was spring operated and you would wind it up and put your record on, release the brake holding the turntable, and listed to the music. The 78 rpm records were the only records around then. We also had a battery operated radio that we listened to some. You could not run the radio too much or you would run the battery down too soon.
There were not very many radio stations then and most of them were at very distant locations. Dad had extra tall posts, about 12 ft, in each corner of our front yard with a wire running from one to the other and then into the house to the radio to act as an antenna to pick up the distant stations. If any of you have ever lived in Texas you know it can get plenty hot here in the summertime, 105 degrees is nothing unusual. So, how do you cope without air conditioning? There are several tactics that can be used. High ceilings will help to keep a house cooler, as will shade trees around the house.
Another thing you can do is to open all the windows to let any breeze that is stirring circulate throughout the house. Nights could be a different matter. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem to cool down any at night and it can get awfully hot and stuffy inside. Dad solved this problem though. He got an old metal bedstead and extra mattress and set up in the yard for he and mother and got a small metal frame cot for me. We would sleep outside from the latter part of May until sometime in September when the weather started to cool down. We had to locate the bed in the open rather than under the trees, as that was where the chickens roosted.
This worked fine most of the time, but sometimes one of those early morning thunderstorms would catch us by surprise. As soon as we heard the thunder mother would grad the spread and pillows off their bed, dad would get the mattress and I would get my pillow and spread and head for the house trying to beat the rain. A few times it slipped in on us and the raindrops hitting our face was the first indication we had of a rain approaching. As I stated in the first chapter, our house was located in the middle of the ranch and nobody was going to try to drive through there at night unless it was a dire emergency, so we had complete privacy.