When the lights go out

Twice in the last few weeks, our electricity’s gone off. The first time happened when a semi-truck crossed four lanes, taking out a power pole by the Eagles Hall not far from us. My son Doug and I heard a loud bang just before the lights went out.

It was in the early evening and the entire neighborhood went black. There was no way I’d try going to sleep at 6 p.m. I’d find something to do but in the dark? Doug brought me a tiny hand held flashlight. I went into my “office” — that’s what I call our spare bedroom – found a book I’d been waiting to read. For five hours I read that big novel by flashlight.

When it was time to go to sleep I’d almost finishing it. Of course worrywart Doug was afraid all of our food would be ruined during the power outage, I knew that if we just left the refrigerator and freezer alone all would be fine. Of course, it was. Finally, after I’d been asleep a few hours, the lamp by my bed came on and my television set lit up like a Christmas tree.

The TV took a few minutes to find a show. Everything was normal. A few days later, on a Friday night during a windstorm, Doug predicted our power would once again go out. Just minutes later, another loud bang and a small section of our street was plunged into darkness. He called the appropriate authorities, praying they’d get the power on before the end of the weekend. Going outside he checked to what happened.

Doug found a dead bird at the base of the power pole. The bird had evidently shorted out the transformer. Only three homes were actually out. We waited, but not very long, thank goodness. Some workers came out and fixed the problem quickly. No six or seven hour wait. I got to thinking about the different times this same thing has happened. It’s bound to occur with the bad weather we have.

Ice and snow cause conditions leading to accidents. However, all too often it’s from speeding, inattentive cellphone users and many times an electric pole is included in the mess. And what happens? Out come our police and fire forces, medical personnel, utility workers and anybody else needed to repair things and save people’s lives. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, how bad the weather is, or what day of the week.

God bless them. They do their jobs, very often without even a pat on the back. Isn’t it time we say an overdue, sincere “thank you” to these wonderful people? Yes, they’re paid for doing their jobs. But how would you like to be called out in the middle of the night, often in the terrible cold, rain or snow? Okay Joe, get on that weather gear, warm up the repair truck and get to work.

It’s so easy for us to forget these hard workers — including local police, the Sheriff’s department, ambulance personnel and the Highway patrol – who accept their devotion to duty without question. These law people put their lives on the line every single day and night. Just maybe, when you see them while shopping at a local store, or passing them on the street, give them a wave and tell them, “thank you for your service.”

While sitting at the computer writing this, I can see the still present snow. This reminds me of the days my sister Jeanne and I loved going outside to play, especially in Pennsylvania’s winter weather. Girls didn’t wear slacks then, but Jeanne and I would put on our snuggies underwear — thick, long cotton panties, in case you hadn’t guessed – our warmest wool dresses, sweaters, warm coats, hats, gloves, scarves and those terrible heavy wool stockings.

Then, once we’d put heavy boots on our feet, we’d go to find a snowy hill to slide down. I have to smile remembering how we’d come back into the cellar, take off tons of our wet clothing and then hang things to dry by the coal furnace. We could hardly wait until everything was dry so we could put them back on and head outside again.

Maybe it’s these precious memories in the Germantown section of Philadelphia with my dear sister Jeanne. who’s now gone, that snowy days always make me smile. Perhaps I’m peculiar, some might call me sentimental. I just love this snowy weather.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at news@lahontanvalleynews.com


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