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FARMS GET WIRED
Interview excerpts from people who remember life before electricity

BILLIE GAMMON INTERVIEW

July 15, 1999

  • Billie Gammon bio

    I'm going to tell you how electricity affects me.

    I grew up, now remember I'm going to be 83, I grew up in a timeframe when people had kerosene lamps. We didn't have very many of them on the farm either. I'm thinking of children and what life was like. When darkness came you lighted the lamp, the kerosene lamp.

    You had one really good lamp that gave quite a lot of lamp. Don't ask me how many lumins or anything. But it gave off a lot of light. You put that on the table in the middle of the room.

    It's after supper and the dishes are done and the night chores are done. The father is sitting there with his chair drawn up beside the table. It's after supper. It's growing dark. The dishes are done. The night chores are done. Father comes in from the barn and washes his hands. Mother picks up her mending and we all sit around the table. The good lamp, the one that gives the most light, is put in the center of the table. Father doesn't sit with his legs under the table. He sits with his legs beside the table. He's reading the paper, the newspaper or one of the farm magazines. Mother is sitting there and she's darning socks or patching the knees of the overalls or something like that. She's working. We all are getting the light from the one lamp. The children, three of them, are seated around that table doing their homework. The family is all together. Father says listen to this and he reads to us all something that he's found in the farm journal or something and we talk about it. Then we go back to our homework and mother keeps on with her mending and father keeps on reading. The whole family is together, always together because you're gathered around the light.

    Once electricity came and everybody's got light and heat and everything in their own room the family is splintered and don't ever sit together anymore. They never came back together until they began sitting around the television and then they wouldn't even speak to each other. So it lost all of it. You can see it, can't you.


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    THE POWER INDUSTRY EXPANDS | FARMS GET WIRED | ELECTRICITY TODAY | FEATURED INTERVIEWS | TRANSCRIPT

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    HOME: The Story of Maine on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network was made in partnership with the Maine State Museum. Major funding was provided by the  Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency committed to fostering innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning. Additional funding provided by Elsie Viles.
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