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From Candle Light To Light Bulbs


Laurie Ness

Senior High Division


The candle was one of the first ways people used for makinglight. It is a long round stick of wax with a cord through the center andsticking out at one end. This cord is called a wick, and it is the partthat burns to make light. Now days candles are used mostly for decorationand in religious services. The candles that were made in the middle ageswere burned in churches but they were all made by hand. Some of these candleswere used to decorate the Christmas tree at Christmas time because therewere no electric strings of lights that we use today. The candles couldonly be lit for a little while because families did not want to risk havinga fire in their home.

After the candle, people used kerosene lamps. These lampshad a bowl to hold the kerosene and a wick you lit with a match. After itwas lit, a glass chimney was placed over it. These also were not too safeand didn't give off much light. In those days, you could buy a kerosenelamp for seventy-five cents and kerosene for twelve cents a gallon.

Another kind of lamp was the Aladdin. It burned kerosenealso and had two mesh like bulbs called mantles you lit. You had to be carefulwhen handling them because they broke easily. The chimneys had to be cleanedfrequently because they would be blackened by soot. Cleaning the lamp wasnot a favorite job. It was usually done on a Saturday afternoon. They werecleaned by crumpling up old newspaper they had on hand to clean the insideof the chimney. Your hand and most of your arm were covered with black soot.

If the wick of the lamp wasn't burning a clean clear flame,it had to be trimmed off and after a few trimmings you would have to replaceit with a new wick.

Another type of lamp was a bracket lamp. A bracket wasattached to the window usually above the kitchen table. A reflector wasplaced behind it, made of metal and covered with quick silver.

Kerosene lanterns were used in the barns while you didthe chores. They worked on the same order as the kerosene lamp. They hada handle to carry them by and to hang them on a nail in the barn. Gas lanternswere also used.

Today, electricity is the best servant to man. It allowsus to push a button or throw a switch, and entertainment comes into ourhome. Electricity is used in almost every part of the world. Nine out often people in the U.S. use electricity every day. It wasn't until the 1800'sthat an Italian scientist named Allesandro Volta made the first electricbattery, in which electricity could be stored. This led to the discoveryof the electric generators, which is used to supply electric current tohouses, factories and farms. Most cities and towns had electricity beforeit came to rural areas.

Burning a small light under a bed at night keeps peoplefrom danger.

The Interstate Power Company says hundreds of our customersare burning a small electric light mounted under the bed at night. Fearhas vanished, stubbed toes are a thing of the past and small babies throughpunctual and undisturbed feeding are better babies.

One of the world's greatest discoveries was the developmentof the incandescent lamp by Thomas A. Edison in 1879. The incandescent electriclight consisted of a pear shaped glass and is sealed air tight.

Electric lights are available in clear or frosted glassand in many different sizes, shapes, and colors.

In recent years, the fluorescent lighting has increased.It is much cooler than the incandescent light bulbs and it consists of aglass tube which is fitted with prongs and electrodes at each end. In theinside, a thin coating of minerals and chemicals which glow when an electriccurrent passes through the mercury vapor.

Most of us have never known what it is like to be withoutelectric lights, yet less than seventy five years ago the only lightingknown was some kind of flame.

(1) Chronotype Express 1929


Americana Encyclopedia #5 page 495

Gronemas, Chris A. and John L. Feirer, General Shop, Copyright1959, pages 169-171

Lapp, Mrs. Dick, Interview, January 29, 1975

Ness, Mrs. Francis, Interview, January 27, 1975

Newkirk, Louis V., General Shop, Copyright, 1959, Pages197-198


Newkirk, Louis V., General Shop, Copyright, 1959, Pages197-198