Jack Remembers: I learned everything about electricity when I put my finger in a socket

By Jack Hackley

It is hard for me to realize that most people in this country today do not know what life was like without electricity because they have always had it.
I was about seven years old in early 1941 when R.E.A. put electricity through our area.  What I don’t remember and need your help on, is who wired the farm houses? Did R.E.A. have someone who did it?
My cousins lived in a little three- room farm house down the road from our old four-room farm house.  The electric lines in my cousins’ house ran on the floor along the baseboard, up the wall, across the ceiling to the center of the room where a light bulb hung down with a string attached to it to turn on and off.
Three 40-watt bulbs were hanging down in three separate rooms, and that was the extent of their electricity.
Whoever did the wiring did a better job on our farm house, because I remember we even had a switch to turn the light on and off, and the light bulb was in a ceiling fixture that my mom had ordered from Sears & Roebuck.
My dad also wired part of the barn so we could milk cows with a milking machine.
Back then, no one understood electricity, and people were actually afraid of it.  Down the road at my cousins’ house, my Uncle Jim told the kids if they looked at that 40-watt bulb, they would go blind.
At night when they turned the lights on, my cousins went around with their hands shielding the light from their eyes.
Somebody gave my mother a lamp that was a wooden donkey with the light bulb socket on top of its back.  When you shoved the donkey’s tail down, the light was supposed to go on.
I plugged that lamp in, put my finger down into the socket where the bulb would go, and when I pulled that tail down, my eyeballs lit up.
It gave me an education about electricity unsurpassed by anything taught in our engineering colleges.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or  Visit

You must be logged in to post a comment Login