When nothing’s plugged in, darned if those outlets don’t leak electricity

By Jack Hackley

I received several letters from people who remembered who wired their farm house when they first got electricity from REA.
Bill Carter from Norborne, who reads my column in the Richmond News, says “I can remember in 1939 my first year in school about electricity. I could not figure out how they dug the hole for poles with this long handled shovel and spoon.”
He went on to say that if you didn’t use REA people, your house had to be inspected before they would hook you on. Their REA was out of Chillicothe.
Another letter I received was from Alta Waddell.

Dear Mr. Hackley,
I enjoy your column in the Mansfield Mirror. You wondered about who wired the houses when electricity became available. Anyone who knew how to do it wired their own, and helped the neighbors do theirs.
In the late forties and early fifties, I helped my father, Clarence Collison, wire several homes in our neighborhood on Pea Ridge Road – where Pea Ridge School was located. (The schoolhouse is now a home).
He also wired New Hope Baptist Church, across the road a little east of the school. Some of the original wiring at the church was still intact the last time I was there in 2008.
– Sincerely,
Alta Waddell
Wickenburg, Ariz.

Mo Pub electric company furnished electricity to most towns in our area. They had an employee in each town who was called the local maintenance man.
In Oak Grove, it was William McCoy. He liked to tell about the early days when people didn’t understand electricity. One woman called him, wanted her meter checked because she was using too much electricity, then called him back and said, never mind, she had found the problem. There was a plug-in that didn’t have anything plugged in to it, and it was leaking.

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

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