Thursday, January 24, 2013


Eight Miles from Town and Eleven Families on the Line

When we moved into Grandpa's house, the phone was where it had been since it was installed.  It was screwed to the wall about 5 feet above the floor.  It was in a wooden case about 18 inches high and maybe 10 inches wide.  The mouth piece was mounted in the middle of the front, which was also a door.  The door could be opened to replace the two batteries which stood upright.  That didn't happen very often.  The ear piece was mounted to the left side about two thirds of the way up.  It hung in a U shaped hanger.  When one lifted it to make a call or to answer a call it had an attached cord about two and a half feet long.  So you stood facing the wall, speaking into the mouth piece and holding the ear piece in your left hand, listening with one's left ear.  The ringer was a little crank on the right side about the middle of the box.

When phones became available, eleven families in our neighborhood got together and built a phone line all the way to the phone company in town, Eldorado, Okla.  They all had access to the line.  Each family had their own ring.  There was a general ring which meant that all homes should pick up and listen to an urgent message.  Otherwise, each family had their own ring made up of long and or short burst of sound.  For instant: long-short-short or long-long-short or 3 shorts or 2 longs, etc.  One rather long ring was for calling central or the operator in town to place a call to another line than our own.  When you made a call, all other families on the line could hear it.  Often one could soon hear other folks picking up to listen in.
Lighting was generally available by means of kerosine lamps.  I don't know how many, other families had, I think at least two.  One for the main room.  In that case, for us, it was the long T room running straight back from the two rooms that faced the road.  That was the room where we had the heat stove.  Generally there was a full sized bed in the northeast corner of that room.  The heat stove was in the middle, left to right, and about two thirds from the west end.  Usually the best lamp with the kerosine was in our main living room.  When bed time came we carried it to the  other bed rooms or there might have been a second lamp to use in another room.  When that's all you have, the light is good, better than candles.

Over the years Granny and Papa had different kinds of lighting applications.  When I first remember and for several years they had a wind charger.  That required a plethora of six volt batteries (the only kind we had for that purpose in those days).  They had lights and light switches in all rooms...looked just like today, but all made with the power of wind.

After a while Thelma and Dillon had wind power and they gave us their Aladdin lamp.  O, my, the whole room seemed full of light.  That was such a joy!  I felt so blessed.

While Lawton and Nina lived in the Little Red House, I think I was there pretty often.  After they moved to the Drew Place, not so often.  Once when Daddy and Lawton were re-roofing the Little Red, Edwin and I were muddling around in the yard.  He was about two and I must have been a little past four.  I saw a bumble bee lighting on the back of his neck.  I reached to pull it away.  We both let out a "bloody murder scream" at the same moment.  The Daddies came bounding down the ladder to see what was the matter.  We had both been stung by that same bee within split seconds of each other.

We had a Rawleigh Man.  He came by once or twice a year.  He stopped his pick-up beside the road in front of the house.  I don't remember, if he honked his horn or hollered.  Some how he got Mother's attention.  His pick-up bed had wooden doors on the sides, with shelves and many little places for storage.  Those were will filled with all kinds of herbs and spices.  He had bottles of oils, salves and flavors.  Any thing a lady might need to help in cooking, baking and making her food taste and smell wonderfully delicious.  Years later, when we moved to northern Illinois, I learned that the huge W. T. Rawleigh plant was just 35 miles northeast of us, in Freeport, Illinois.  It is still there, a gigantic, four story building.  Lou and Al Schwitzer, members of the Ridott Church which I pastored for 16 years, had worked there almost all their adult working lifes. 

 William T. Rawleigh was 17 when he began making salves in his mother's kitchen in 1889.  He drove a mortgaged buggy and a borrowed horse to sell his four salves door to door.  Those four salves: Rawleigh Antiseptic, Rawleigh Internal Liniment, Rawleigh Medicated Ointment, and Rawleigh External AP Oil are all still being made.  During World War II, Australian soldiers carried Rawleigh Antiseptic Salve in their first aid kit to treat wounds and ward off infections.  On January 27, 2009, The W. T. Rawleigh Company announced their celebration of their 120th Anniversary as a direct sales purveyor of home remedies and fine spices and seasonings.  These are all available on line...almost the same as door to door.  Eventually he had seven plants world wide, and would have been considered the Bill Gates of his time.

I remember Lou saying that she ground black pepper all day long, sometimes for a whole week.  Then they would switch over to another spice or herb.  I always liked to run out to the Rawleigh truck with Mother to look at all the products he had for her to consider.  It never occurred to me that some day I would see the building and know the people who were there where it was being processed.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting about the wind charger, I do remember them. Today it is a big deal about the "new" idea of the wind farms capturing the wind to make our electricity!