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Page Index of Forest to Field Volume One

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~ THEDAY ~ BEFORE ELECTRICITY

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Imagine, if you can, living on the day before electricity.

You wake up to a jangling, wind-up alarm clock. No clock radio ." it's electric. Then, you stumble around in the dark to find a match to light your gas or oil lamp. Now you are ready to hand­ pump water to brush ycur teeth. Shaving is a joy. No electric shavers ." not even any hot water, unless you heat it on the stove.

Speaking of the stove ." to heat your shaving water or to make your morning cup of coffee, you have to start a fire, then toss in some wood or coal and wait for it to heat up. But, while you are waiting, you can empty the messy drip pan in the

ice box.

Somehow, you manage to make it to sunrise.

Dad is off to work. He has to walk or ride, a horse-drawn trolley. Once at the plant, he notices some really big changes from today. First of all, it's pretty dark inside ." no electric lights. No electric motors." no big overhead cranes.

All the power is supplied by a steam engine or biceps. The office isn't much better. First of all, you have to walk up ". elevators are electric. Once inside the office, you will notice what's missing ". telephones, electric typewriters, copiers, calculators. And, ventilation is supplied by an open window - not even any fans.

Dad has it bad. But Mom has it worse. The stove,

ice box and water pump are bad enough, but that's just

the beginning. Sure, she has a washing machine. But, she

has to drive it herself with a hand crank. Automatic dryer?

No way. Wring out the clothes by hand and hang them on a clothesline. Since it's raining today, you will have to string the line across the kitchen. But there's one good thing about the rain. Mom won't have to roll up the rugs, drag them outside and beat them clean (vacuum cleaners are electric, too).

By this time, the clothes are getting dry because the coal stove which you lighted for breakfast has made the kitchen hotter than you-know-where. But, the stove does come in handy for heating your heavy, cast-iron flat iron to do Dad's shirts. While ironing, you can sing to yourself. That's about the only choice you have, because there's no soap opera to watch (television is electric) ." no radio to listen to ". and no telephone for talking to your sister across town.

It's now about 4 o'clock in the afternoon ." and by this time our point should be apparent: the "good old days" aren't all that good.

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