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Childhood Memories: Delco Light Plants and School in the 1940s

| 7/20/2012 10:39:59 AM

As I’m only a few days shy of my 79th birthday, I feel the urge to reminisce about some of my childhood memories. I hope you’ll indulge me.

There was a Delco light plant in the corner of the cellar near the outside cellar door. This device consisted of a small gasoline engine, a generator, and a number of large storage batteries that provided us with 32 volts of DC electricity to operate lights, etc.

About 1937 or 1938, I remember watching out the window as a lineman hooked up our electricity at the pole. Dad got an electrician to wire the house and barn and my Uncle Dave, who was an electrician for J & L Steel in Aliquippa, Pa., rewired several strings of Christmas tree lights so they would work on the new 110 volt AC current, rather than the DC put out by the Delco plant.

A neighbor who lived farther south of us, where the electric line wouldn't reach for quite a while, bought our Delco plant. I remember him dragging the concrete base for the light plant up the dirt road behind his old Ford car.

I don’t remember this, but when I was a baby, the open fireplace in the living room at the bottom of the stairwell was used for heat. One winter night, Dad woke up, smelled smoke, and found hot coals had fallen beyond the brick hearth and had ignited the wooden floor. I don't think the fireplace was ever used after that and that’s probably when a coal-fired space heater was installed in its place.

I remember running downstairs on cold winter mornings to dress by that coal stove, as there was no heat upstairs, other than what went up through the stairwell. We had a coal range in the kitchen besides the coal stove in the living room. There was a fireplace in each of the two larger bedrooms upstairs, but I don't remember them ever being used.


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