Rural Missouri - July 2012 - (Page 4)
C O M M E N T S
“Devoted to the rural way of life”
July 2012 Volume 64 / Number 7 Jim McCarty, editor email@example.com Jason Jenkins, managing editor firstname.lastname@example.org Heather Berry, associate editor email@example.com Kyle Spradley, field editor firstname.lastname@example.org Megan Schibi, editorial assistant email@example.com Mary Davis, production manager firstname.lastname@example.org
This group gathered July 29, 1937, at the B.L. Anderson farm near Monticello to celebrate energizing the first electric cooperative line completed in Missouri. Anderson, fourth from the left, was president of Lewis County Rural Electric Cooperative.
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The day the lights came on
Missouri’s first REA-financed line energized 75 years ago
imes were hard when the first talk of organizing an electric cooperative in Missouri’s northeast corner began. Many rural people were desperate for employment, food and clothing. The Canton newspaper reported on sheriff’s sales where those who could not pay their mortgages were cast out of their homes. Many area men joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, with some of them crushing rock for new roads at a local quarry. Local women worked in sewing circles to make clothes that were shipped to Jefferson City and divided among the poor. Farmers suffered from the serious drought that had gripped the Midwest. Coffee shop talk centered on crop failure, while those raising livestock were forced to sell at a loss or slaughter their herds because there was no feed. It was a tough time to launch an electric cooperative. But electricity was exactly what farmers needed to bring them out of the Depression. Determined rural people such as Port Hall of Labelle heard about the rural electric movement and decided to get involved. Like many early rural electric leaders, Hall wasn’t content to wait for electricity to come to his farm. Instead, he actively recruited members for the proposed cooperative. “The job wasn’t easy,” Hall was quoted in the May 1960 Rural Electric Missourian, the prior name for Rural Missouri. However, families were usually ready with the membership fee when the lines went by their places. Lewis County Rural Electric Cooperative, Lewistown, would be the first to energize a rural electric line in Missouri. That event — which took place 75 years ago this month — came to be known at electric cooperatives around the state as “the day the lights came on.” Armed with a loan from the Rural Electrification Administration, Lewis County’s organizers hit the ground running and had a line constructed a year after incorporating. That line stretched 108 miles from the power source — the city of Canton municipal power plant — to Monticello where the cooperative’s office was then located. Canton Mayor George L. Martin threw the switch that energized the cooperative’s substations. Honors for the first
USPS 473-000 ISSN 0164-8578
member energized went to Judge B.L. Anderson of Dickerson, one of the cooperative’s original incorporators and president of the board. On a hot July day in 1937, his wife flipped the kitchen light switch, lighting a 100-watt bulb that cast its warm glow over the noon-day meal. An expression of joy lighted the faces of those gathered for the historic event. Then came an outburst of voices shouting, “Hooray for REA!” That evening, electric lights were strung in the Anderson’s yard and a party ensued. More than 100 people helped celebrate, including REA officials who travelled from Washington, D.C., to celebrate the coming of electricity to rural parts of the Show-Me State. “The patrons of the company will be happy and delighted with the new service that the Rural Electric Corporation is giving them,” wrote the Lewis County Journal in a frontpage story published July 29, 1937. “Let’s all celebrate the turning on of the juice all over the county. It is a day of rejoicing.” Judge Anderson predicted the coming of electricity would allow rural schools to consolidate and do a better job educating students by providing electric cooking, shop work, educational movies and sports. “Now that farms are getting electricity, we’ll see big improvements in the farm equipment line, especially in poultry raising and dairying,” he added. Gone were the days of pulling frozen sheets from the clothesline, of lighting lanterns when the sun went down, of carrying buckets of water from the creek and throwing out spoiled milk. Most thought the job of wiring the countryside would never be accomplished. An article in Popular Mechanics magazine from the 1920s related: “Thousands of these rural homes will never enjoy the blessings of electricity if they wait for the high lines to bring it because they are in areas so sparsely populated that power lines cannot be made to pay for themselves.” True, but by removing the profit motive from the equation, electric cooperatives would, in time, achieve the goal of electricity for all.
Copyright 2012, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Call for reprint rights. Rural Missouri is published monthly by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Barry Hart, executive vice president. Individual subscription rate: $9 per year or $21 for three years, taxes and postage included. Group rate for members of participating RECs $3.99, taxes and postage included. Delivery as specified by subscriber. If not specified, delivery will be by periodical class mail at subscriber’s expense. Periodical Class postage paid at Jefferson City, MO, and additional mailing offices.
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Postmasters: Send address changes to Rural Missouri, P.O. Box 1645, Jefferson City, MO 65102. Subscribers: Report change of address to your local cooperative. Do not send change of address to Rural Missouri. Advertising standards: Advertising published in Rural Missouri is accepted on the premise that the merchandise and services offered are accurately described and sold to customers at the advertised price. Rural Missouri and Missouri’s electric cooperatives do not endorse any products or services advertised herein. Advertising that does not conform to these standards or that is deceptive or misleading is never knowingly accepted by this publication. Advertising information: firstname.lastname@example.org 573-659-3400 National Advertising Representative: National Country Market; 611 S. Congress St., Suite 504; Austin, TX 78704 573-659-3400 Member, Missouri Association of Publications and Missouri Press Association
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Correction: A photo caption on this page in the June 2012 issue identified Eric Bohl and Adam Kingree as being from U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s staff. While Bohl works with Hartzler, Kingree actually is with U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson’s staff.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2012
Rural Missouri - July 2012
A peach of a place
Quilting for a cause
Corralling the faithful
Out of the Way Eats
Platte City’s jewel
Reeling in the competition
Hearth and Home
Rita & Little Ollie
Rural Missouri - July 2012