Yvonne Hollenbeck: Great Inventions
Everybody, at one time or another, gets involved in a conversation regarding great inventions. We have certainly seen a lot of them in just the past few years, ranging from vehicles and machinery to medical advancements and of course, computer technology. When I recently asked my husband what he thought was the greatest invention in his lifetime, he was quick to answer, “R.E.A.” Of course, that is what us country folks call electricity.
Most of us of the elder generation recall a time when there was no electricity on the farms and ranches across the nation. One of President Franklin Roosevelt’s programs was the establishment of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, which provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States. The funding was channeled through cooperative electric power companies, most of which exist today. Of course, when the 74th congress passed this legislation in 1936, the country was in the midst of the great depression and cooperatives were not established and funded until several years later.
My husband was born in 1942 and has lived his entire life on this ranch, so remembers well when the Rosebud Electric Association began setting poles and running electricity to farms and ranches in this area and it was 1952 when the family had electricity in their home. He recalls the days of using kerosene lights and lanterns and then getting a wind charger, which provided a meager form of electricity to the house. The family milked cows by hand and churned the milk with a hand-crank separator and of course, had no electricity for water pumps, so there was no indoor plumbing. What a happy day it was when they suddenly had the amenities that electricity provided. They were even able to have electric lights in the barn as well as the one-room school he attended.
As I type this article on my computer in a well-lighted, air-conditioned office in my home filled with all sorts of gadgets powered by electricity, I recall the days when my typing was done on a manual typewriter. It was 1965 when I encountered my first electric typewriter and how office equipment has changed due to electricity. It has not been many years since I have had the luxury of air conditioning in my home. I still have a supply of window fans just in case.
As I alluded to above, we get our power from the Rosebud Electric Association which headquarters out of Gregory, South Dakota. Today Rosebud Electric Cooperative is the tenth largest rural electric among twenty-nine rural electrics in the state. A nine member electric board of directors governs the Cooperative. It employs twenty-two people to maintain the 2,500 miles of line and serve the 5,200 metered accounts in the three county area. Like many rural electrics, especially in the tri-state area, Rosebud Electric has a low density service area. The cooperative serves 2 metered accounts per mile of electric line compared the large power companies that will serve 40 accounts per mile of line. Despite the low density, the members of the cooperative do have one of the lowest electric rates in the state and nation.
Not only should we appreciate the service of our electric cooperatives, especially during an outage in bad weather, but we should forever be appreciative of their providing us the greatest invention in our lifetime.
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