Friday, May 24, 2013

LIGHT READING


 I


 
 

Just wishing Happy Fifth Birthday to Beverly’s Pink Saturday tradition.   Do go have a look at all the wonderful creations and finds and cuisine and flowers and all-things-pink that people are showing.

 

My show-and-tell this week is an old “light fixture,” from Mammaw’s first house (but not from when she first HAD the house.   Electricity didn’t come to them until the late thirties, bless the TVA.     Mammaw and Grandpa moved into that house on the day that they married in 1917, and not until Mother's brother was about fourteen and an electrical savant, did they have “current” in the house.

 

 I cannot imagine how my Mother and Uncle Lee ever did their homework or read at night, let alone the crochet and sewing that Mother did.   How did she SEE to thread a needle or pick up a stitch in the light of the several coal-oil lamps?   
 

You just screwed in a bulb GOD BLESS MR. EDISON, giving the hanging chain a little tug to illuminate the darkness.   I was just mentioning the other day how the recent hot weather and the spotlight-bright Sunlight Bulb over the breakfast table down here conspire to transport me some days to those HOT Summer nights of one-bulb-in-the-ceiling and the beetle-buzz against the open screens, as we shelled peas or just talked awhile or listened to the Grand Ole Opry on the wooden radio that looked like a little church, or maybe Sister Rose coming to all her air-waves friends from Del Rio, Texas, where you could order a crocheted wall-hanging or couch-cover of The Lord’s Supper for just 3.95.  
 
 
 By some sort of common consent, the lights were always out for Pam and Jerry North and Inner Sanctum---it just seemed fitting.

 

 

 

Something about an unshaded lightbulb is so reminiscent of the times of my life---the high-ceilinged yellowing bead-board in the three rooms of Mammaw’s little shotgun house, with the family pictures hung on the walls along with the Cardui calendar and a couple of  navy-blue-velvet rectangles printed with a glittery HOME SWEET HOME and THE LORD WILL PROVIDE.



 In the “middle room” the darkness took over the ceiling above the single-bulb-on-a-dangly-cord, and the loss of that six feet of upper wall made it as if the house squatted shorter every night, hunkering down to rest til dawn.

 

Of course, when Daddy tore down the old house in the late Fifties, the NEW of the whole thing called for nice brassy  glass-shaded Sears Roebuck fixtures in every room.   Two of the old lamps continued to sit on the dining room dresser “in case the lights go out.”

This relic weighs about two pounds, is painted in shiny enamel, and could use a good going-over with a toothbrush.   But I refrain, for the accumulated grime of the years is part of its charm (besides, I watch Antiques Roadshow).   Its sockets are lined with what looks like cardboard---unless it’s some form of asbestos (and the long-lost withered cord was also wrapped in layers of paperish stuff), it seems as if it would have been a terrible fire hazard.   Nevertheless, it hung there over decades, shining down on company and gatherings and quiet nights of the days before TV, lighting many a pea-shelling and quilt-piecing, the games of monopoly and checkers,  a hushed sitting-up-with-the-dead or two, and the hum of the faithful old Singer treadle going deep into the night. 
 

It retired its role in the scheme of things, being set on mantels and tables and used as a centerpiece candle-holder over the years, spending almost as much time relegated to a dark drawer.   It sits now up on Chris’ “old stuff” shelf, testament to the old ways and new conveniences which have stretched across time from grandparents unto the fifth generation now.

 

It’s “vintage,” I suppose, and considering its almost-ninety years tenure in the family, it will soon become a genu-wine antique.  May we all look this good at a Hundred.
 
 
 


11 comments:

Jil~Say It With Roses said...

I love these wonderful olde light fixtures! And, I agree, I have no idea how anyone could see to read or sew by the light of these...
HPS!
♥ Jil

LV said...

I grew up using an oil lamp for my light. I do not know how we managed so much with so little. I loved hearing your family story.

Jil~Say It With Roses said...

My comment disappeared...lol! Gremlins in the computer!
I was just saying that I love these old light fixtures and I agree, I have no idea how people did not go blind reading or sewing under them!
HPS!
♥ Jil

Grace said...

Happy Pink Saturday Birthday. I adore that light fixture. The detail is so pretty and the pink flower adorable. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend Grace

Marcia Pilar said...

Thank you for sharing. How very special. I remember seeing plenty of these at my dad's childhood home when I visited about 30 years ago. I think they are so special.
Stopping by via Beverly's Pink Saturday. I enjoyed slowing down here tonight.
Happy pinks.

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Hi Rachel, I have enjoyed your recent comments and I have wanted to write to you this past week. However,time flew by and now we are in Florida for two of our grands who are graduating from HS. I was happy to see you joined in for Pink Saturday.

The vintage light fixture is so lovely. I wouldn't touch it either. The patina from age is what makes them so charming. I only remember no electricity at our grandfather's hunting cabin. We vacationed there many times and there was a well pump inside for water. Outhouses as well. One was named Paris for the girls and France for the boys. The cabin was built in 1937. It is still there and has electric but the outhouse is still the plumbing. I love your family stories so much. I remember my great grandparents on my mother's side. They vacationed in FL in the winter and stayed in tents. It was where we are right now in Kissimmee when there wasn't much here but warm weather. This was in the early 1900's. I have a photo of them all dressed up in chairs in front of their tent.Victorian dresses and coats and ties. Amazing. Our family stories are treasures we must always remember. The best part is your stories are written down for the future generations.

Good night my dear sweet blogging friend. Happy Pink Saturday.
Love, Jeanne

Your family story sure tells about the times when life was not as easy but oh how the memories make us smile.

Dirty Martini Queen said...

I have some of these same memories of visiting my grandparents home. My daddy tells stories about collecting rainwater in barrels and how it was "run" into the bathrooms for use. The had well water in the kitchen for cooking and that house was always filled with yummy cooking smells. They might have not "had much" but love and laughter were in abundance in that home! Thanks for taking me right back to that little white home and such sweet memories.

Donna

mississippi artist said...

I see these in antique stores and never knew they were that old. They make cute candleholders. Did this have a shade hanging down or just bare bulbs?

Beverly said...

Dear, dear Rachel. Does it seem strange that I say how much I love you when we have never met in person? Yet yes, I can sincerely say that I do love you. Seeing your name, or a comment from you or just thinking of you makes me feel like I am receiving a warm hug. You have a place in my heart.

Thank you for celebrating Pink Saturday with us this week. You are like a beautifully wrapped present finished with swirls of pastel colored curling ribbon. You're too pretty to unwrap, but too hard to resist what I find inside.♥

Carolyn said...

Wow, that light fixture brings back memories of our little white clapboard home in the Arkansas foothills. I loved them then and still do.
Thanks for the memorie!
Carolyn

Kim S. said...

Well, I can't beat the electricity, but my grandparents didn't have a tub in the house bathroom on their farm until I was a teenager - just a lonely (functioning) toilet in the bathroom floating on a concrete island in a sea of red Carolina dirt! And, my dear, you sent me scurrying to "Google" Pam and Jerry North radio. Oh, rapture, that there was such a thing. Now I'm wondering if anyone saved those and if they are available somewhere! You are a treasure.