We get a glimpse of pre-1938 life in rural Platte County after big storms or when a transformer blows. A strange quiet settles over the house. There’s no television, no computer, no humming of the refrigerator or the sound of pop music pulsating from a teenager’s room.
When there is no electricity, a home feels lonely.
The Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative is celebrating a 75th anniversary this year. Youngsters charging their cell phones in a wall socket may not care much this summer one way or another. But someday they will, maybe by the 100th or the 125th anniversaries. Age makes a thoughtful person look backward and forward beyond their time.
I wonder what changes the power business will experience by the time this year’s high school grads have gray hair?
But for now, realize major changes have occurred in relatively recent times. There are people among us who know what it’s like to read by a coal oil lamp. Or to know in the depth of icy winter that a wood stove is the only option for keeping warm. Big old houses with large windows are cooler in summer than our modern boxes, because once upon a time only a breeze could break the swelter when heat and humidity rise in June.
So here’s a salute to Platte-Clay Co-op members and employees. I wish to extend special congratulations to Cheryl Barnes, who edits the co-op’s Northland Connection newsletter. She’s gathered some wonderful stories from members who remember the moments when daily life changed for the better. They could reach up and pull on a string and an electric light bulb’s glow broke the darkness.
Those who were children when power came to the country talk about watching co-op crews putting up poles and wires. They remember being able to listen to the radio in the house rather than having to hook up the car battery. The convenience of an electric-powered washing machine to clean clothes we take for granted now.
Henry and Marion Shaver of Plattsburg wrote: “We got a waffle iron and a refrigerator that was still working in 1983 when mom passed away.”
I hope Barnes keeps gathering and printing these memories, and perhaps makes special place to view them at pcec.coop/index.htm. We have many Citizen readers who live beyond the co-op’s boundaries who don’t get the newsletter but enjoy history. You’ll find other interesting history at their Website, too.