Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Growing Up Without Electricity

Country at HeartI believe there are pluses and minuses to everything in life. For instance, with the advent of all of these modern, electronic gadgets and devices that add convenience and comfort to our lives, I truly believe that those same contraptions take something away from our interpersonal relationships with one another.

It didn’t bother me that I didn't grow up in a house that had electricity. When I was almost 14, we moved to a house that had electricity. With a house wired for electricity, we could have a refrigerator and electric lights. I did enjoy the brighter lighting. We could read about a hundred times better by that light than by the dim flicker from the old-fashioned oil lamps. I also relished having a refrigerator. That way, we could buy and keep foods that previously we could not store in the old-fashioned ice box. Those two modern conveniences (the frig and lights) were more than wonderful, and I very much appreciated them.

Also with electricity we could have a television, so we bought a small, black and white one. The television was nice and I did watch it some, but for me it was not really necessary. Actually, by the time we got it, I was no longer interested in having one. However, I think that if the house that I grew up in had been wired for electricity, my parents perhaps would have bought a TV earlier.

When I was 18, we got a telephone. Neither the phone nor the TV added anything significant to my life. I could have lived well without either of them too.

Country folks (who didn’t have electricity) relied on the small, compact, barely audible transistor radio for news – that is if they wanted to hear what was going in (and connect with) the outside world. As a child, I wasn't concerned about anything that wasn't going on right around me in my own little, happy world. I was content and didn't want to be disturbed with anything that wasn’t within my immediate circle of fun.

You might wonder, well, without the radio, what did we listen to? We listened to each other, to the singing birds, to the croaking frogs and to the chirping crickets. Well, without a TV, what did we watch? We watched each other and feasted our eyes on the beauty in each changing season. And what did we do without a telephone? We talked to each other, and to our neighbors and friends and to anybody or anything else we could talk to. These things filled our day-to-day lives with more than enough, even without those electrical things.

Now don’t get me wrong. Modern conveniences are fine, but sometimes, I think we spend way too much time allowing them to distract us from more important things like a nice dinner with the family; or an undisturbed conversation with a friend (with our cell phones off); or a quiet evening just sitting in the den with just the silence of our breathing. 

Sometimes I long for those days when we didn't have any of those "necessary" distractions. Life just seemed simpler and better, and much more wholesome and enjoyable. At least we knew more about each other and for sure we had more meaningful, more fruitful and more fulfilling relationships.

lamp | Fotolia/Enrico Lapponi

Photo: Fotolia/Enrico Lapponi