The Letter of Light

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It was the summer of 1936. Sarah and Timmy figured it would be another season of long days trying to keep cool, and sweaty, sleepless nights. Their father Carl spent the days working in the field, doing everything he could to keep the soil somewhat fertile and prevent it from blowing away in the frequent dust storms. Their mother, Hannah, stayed at the family’s tiny farmhouse located in Ada, Oklahoma taking care of the family’s newest addition; Baby Elizabeth.



The Carter family was one of few left in the neighborhood. Most families had gotten so fed-up with all of the dust and the meager crop production that they had decided to move west. Sarah and Timmy had lost most of their neighborhood playmates due to the dust, so they spent most of their summer days running around with just each other and the wind. The days were mostly simple for the twins, with the exception of carrying water and wood to and from the house in the evenings, and making sure the kerosene lanterns were lit by nightfall.



One morning, on the way down the driveway to meet her brother for the day’s activities, Sarah found a letter in the usually vacant mailbox from her best friend Milly. She was so excited! She hadn’t heard from Milly since the end of the school year, when her and her family had packed up and headed west. Immediately she turned around and ran for the house to show her mother. They opened the letter together and Hannah began to read aloud to her daughter.


“Dear Sarah,




I’m sorry it has taken so long for me to write you. My family and I have been very busy trying to get our life back together since the move. My dad found a good job working on the fruit orchards and my mother is doing a lot better than she was before. She is much happier here out of the dust. But, by far the most exciting thing I have to tell you is that we have electricity here! No more sleeping on the porch during the summer because its too hot inside, no more fighting over who gets the blanket in the winter, and my favorite part, no more carrying water buckets all day. It flows right out of the faucet, and at night we don’t even have to light the lanterns, we just walk in the room and flip a tiny switch on the wall. The whole room lights up just like Christmas! I could go on and on about all the things that electricity helps with, but I’m afraid I best be off. I talked to papa and he says that the Rural Electrification Administration has been settin’ people up with electricity in Oklahoma town by town. That means it should be comin’ to you soon, Sarah! Write me back and let me know how things are going. I miss you!


















Love,



















Milly




After reading Milly’s letter all Sarah could think about was what it would be like to have electricity. She told Timmy about the letter, and they spent the next few days persistently questioning their parents about when they would have their turn to experience all of the wonderful things Milly had mentioned. As the weeks passed, Timmy and Sarah’s excitement faded. They went back to their normal days and hardly even thought about the possibility of electricity being available to them. They had no idea that within the next few days, all their fantasies were about to come true.



It was July 18th, 1936 when the twins saw a big white truck with funny looking boxes and wires strung every which way coming from it pulling up the Carter driveway. The kids weren’t used to company, so they ran in to get their Mother who was feeding Elizabeth, trying to quiet her. “Ma! Someone in a big white truck is coming up the driveway! I think they wanna speak to ya!” yelled Timmy through the screen door of the house. Just then, out of the truck jumped a gruff looking man. He walked up to the house and when he was asked what he needed, he handed Mrs. Carter a sheet of paper and replied, “Howdy folks! My name is Charlie, I work for the Oklahoma Electric Company, and we have recently run power lines in the Ada area. Your family can now have full access to electricity in your home for a small fee.” Because of Milly’s letter, the family had been discussing electricity and they had decided that if given the chance, they were willingly going to take it.



Mrs. Carter signed the papers and within hours of the white truck pulling away from the house, the lights came on! Milly couldn’t have been more right about how exciting it actually was! When Carl came home, he washed up under running water for the first time, and the family all slept peacefully that night in the cool air flowing through their seemingly new home.



From that day on, the Carter family discovered their new way of life to be easier and much more fulfilling. The twins were very pleased and Sarah couldn’t wait to sit down and write Milly back to tell of the news, and of how right she had been. Their father talked about how nice it was to come home from a long day in the sun to his cool, air conditioned home. According to Mama though, Baby Elizabeth was the lucky one, “She gets to grow up in the light.”





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