Electricity is now such a part of our lives that we don’t consider it until a storm hits or something else knocks down the power lines, but I remember when electricity came to our house for the very first time.
Electric lines had come to Humble by the early 1940s, but the lines and poles did not extend west of town where the three-room house Daddy had built for his family was located. The house was only two miles west of Highway 59 and just a short distance north of FM 1960. That distance was beyond the reach of the electrical equipment.
My first memories of lights in our home are of kerosene lamps. We would carefully turn down the flames to put them out. After using one for a while, it was necessary to carefully remove the glass chimney and clean the black soot from it. These lamps provided a dim light at night which limited the things we could do. Reading, writing and other activities which required more illumination were completed during the day.
When the electric lines reached our house in 1948, we were happy to put away the kerosene lamps. A light bulb was hung from the center of the ceiling of each room with a long string hanging from it to turn the light on and off. It wasn’t long before an electric stove was moved into the kitchen and the old wood stove was relegated to the backyard.
By the time the electric lights were hung in our house, our family included five siblings. Twin sisters with three brothers were a combination for excitement or trouble. My sister, Eula, and I would come up with ideas and enlist our younger brothers as accomplices.
For instance, one night while Daddy, Momma and my brother, Norman, milked the cows in the barn about a quarter-mile north of our house, Eula and I decided we wanted to scare Momma. We knew she would watch the house while she milked the cows, so we devised a plan to scare her. We each stood under the electric light in one room with James at the third light. We counted to three and pulled the strings. Momma saw the lights go out and came home. I don’t recall exactly what she did, but we certainly never again turned all the lights off at one time.
Another occasion was the afternoon our uncle and cousin W.M. were helping Daddy and Norman repair the cattle guard at the end of the road. Eula and I thought we could still get some use out of the old wood stove that had been abandoned in the back yard by making a “chocolate” pie for Norman and W.M. We made a mixture of dirt, water, sugar and vanilla and patted it into a broken pie plate. We built a fire in the stove and baked the pie in the oven. When Norman came to the house, we asked him if he would like a piece of “chocolate” pie. As he took a bite, we ran away. Although his reaction has faded from memory, I distinctly recall that being the last time anyone cooked in the old wood stove.
Having electricity in our house greatly improved our lives. It also created opportunities for us to attempt new things. When we were left by ourselves, we could always think of some mischief to occupy our time. Many of those activities were possible with electricity in our home.