You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
The day the lights came on at the family farm
Rainy Days and Starry NightsJuly 31, 2013 | 3,115 views | Post a comment
If you were born in the 1930’s or even the early 1940’s in South Texas on a farm somewhere you will probably remember how we didn’t have electricity and used kerosene oil lamps for light at night.
I sometimes wish for those days, because I remember how soft the lighting was in our little house, and made everything look so cozy at night. That house had three rooms, an attic, and a front porch. I think we just had one lamp, and it was in the room which we used the most ... the room with the stove and long dining room table with two chairs and benches on either side. That was the room that had the radio, too. We had a big battery for the radio since there was no electricity. Before, they had a crystal set with earphones, but Mother and Daddy were the only ones allowed to listen to it.
When we had to go to the outhouse at night, since it was a long way from the house, we usually used a lantern to light our way, unless it was a moonlit night, and we had the light of the moon. If you decided to be brave and run as fast you could there and back in the pitch dark, you found out how brave you were, when suddenly you heard a coyote howl near the house. Your heart would be in your throat and you went back in the house out of breath and scared to death, and welcomed the sight of the lamplight and friendly faces all around the dining table. Coyotes won’t attack a human but I didn’t believe that!
I asked several of my brothers and sisters what they remembered about those kerosene lamps we used, all of them remembered best how we all sat around the big dining table to do our homework at night. If you were sitting on the end, you complained that you could not see your paper, so Mother had to scoot the lamp down the table to you.
If we had to go in the bedroom for anything, Mother took the lamp to light our way, or maybe we lit the lantern to find our way in the darkened room.
When the REA (Rural Electrical Administration) came to Texas in 1937, it didn’t reach our community until several years later; we finally got electricity in the early 40s. That was so amazing to us. I remember that night when the lights came on in the Zook house! That was an exciting night. I remember it like it was yesterday.
But I also remember how the bright bare bulb that hung from the ceiling shined, revealing how drab, and colorless the room was. And you could see all the cracks in the walls, and the messy kitchen and the poverty that was really our status those days. I wanted to turn the light off and light the lamp, so I couldn’t see how poor we were. My mother always fussed at me for saying we were poor, but I had heard her say it one time to Daddy when they were talking after we went to bed.
After that, I sort of yearned for the old days of the lamp burning in the room that was so soft and comforting, and didn’t show all the imperfections of our lives. I could pretend we were rich and had beautiful furniture and clothes, and a nice car, instead of an old pickup.
I daydreamed a lot in those days. But yet those times were so simple and I felt very loved by my parents and siblings. I knew Mother and Daddy were doing the best they knew how to give us a good life. It’s not how much “stuff” you have; it is how much love you have that is important. And that love is still in the family 70 years later.
Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at email@example.com.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Celebrate July 4 in cradle of Texas liberty (June 29, 2016)
Freedom Fest brings in big names, big fun (June 29, 2016)
Hear Keen sounds at the river (June 29, 2016)
Paint by number (June 29, 2016)
Poth church offers Bible study, services (June 29, 2016)
Stagecoach ride in Anderson (June 29, 2016)
The Falstaff years and the trucks (June 29, 2016)
Austin’s oldest museum offers daily tours (June 22, 2016)
Dine out with The ROCK (June 22, 2016)
Esparza reunion planned for July 9 (June 22, 2016)
Free guided hikes at Enchanted Rock (June 22, 2016)
Getting your hands dirty — in the garden with Iris Seale (June 22, 2016)
Men: Pay attention to your health (June 22, 2016)
Movies in the Park (June 22, 2016)
New Pioneer Playroom offers hands-on learning (June 22, 2016)
Old newspaper makes memories ‘Local and Personal’ (June 22, 2016)
Poth church to celebrate 90 years (June 22, 2016)
See Legacy of Leadership exhibit in Washington (June 22, 2016)
SS museum plans meeting (June 22, 2016)
Tips for a safe trip to the beach (June 22, 2016)
Wall pocket (June 22, 2016)
Area seniors invited to Bingo Tuesdays (June 15, 2016)
Art Walk America contest deadline is June 23 (June 15, 2016)
Attend picnic at Dewees-Remschel House June 15 (June 15, 2016)
DRT receives honors at state convention (June 15, 2016)
Hear patriotic tunes in Pleasanton (June 15, 2016)
It’s gone! The Spot is gone! (June 15, 2016)
Join WASP for summer season (June 15, 2016)
Jubilee offers fun for the whole family (June 15, 2016)
Martinez Social Club keeps you dancing (June 15, 2016)
Meet 2016 Stockdale Watermelon Jubilee, rodeo court candidates (June 15, 2016)
Moms walking group invites members (June 15, 2016)
Napoli Glass (June 15, 2016)
Oak Hills Church plans yard sale (June 15, 2016)
Ramirezes celebrate golden anniversary (June 15, 2016)
See free movies at Arcadia (June 15, 2016)
Sutherland Springs seeks volunteers (June 15, 2016)
Vendors needed for Freedom Fest (June 15, 2016)
Witness Summer Solstice performance (June 15, 2016)
Add amphibians to your landscaping (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy free summer movies at Rolling Oaks Mall (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy Pilgrim Opry (June 8, 2016)
Gene Watson in Kerrville (June 8, 2016)
Hear ‘Bach to Luckenbach’ (June 8, 2016)
Hummel plate (June 8, 2016)
June dances in Geronimo (June 8, 2016)
Meet for Play Dates in the library (June 8, 2016)
OLPH names 2016 Mother of the Year, May Queen (June 8, 2016)
Prepare to enter cool creation in Ice Cream Freeze-off (June 8, 2016)
Remember Flag Day June 14 (June 8, 2016)
Running group plans June 11 run (June 8, 2016)
St. Ann Teen ACTS plan 5K Color Run (June 8, 2016)
Take Dad out to FatherFest June 19 (June 8, 2016)
The old Wagenfuehr house in Bleu Casa Village (June 8, 2016)
Tracking an icon in the ‘horned lizard capital of Texas’ (June 8, 2016)
Building communities (June 1, 2016)
Cowboy penknife (June 1, 2016)
Garcia receives Linda West Scholarship (June 1, 2016)
Garner State Park celebrates 75 years (June 1, 2016)
Libraries prepare to launch ‘Reading Is So Delicious!’ summer program (June 1, 2016)
Lutheran Church windows relocated for a little TLC (June 1, 2016)
St. Helena Men’s Club plans picnic (June 1, 2016)
Stockdale’s early beginnings (June 1, 2016)
The progression of the classic ‘koozie’ (June 1, 2016)