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Power from the past We’re still going stong after 75 proud years of service in northeast Oklahoma


HE year 2013 marks the 75th year of business for Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and its membership. Some of you have been with us every step of the way.


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From humble beginnings, where each mile of line built meant that freedom from the bondage of the past was that much closer to reality, to a powerful network of over 5,000 miles of line, Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative has indeed come a long way in 75 years.


Our arrival was no accident. It took the foresight and determination of men like


rural Adair resident Howard Freeman to see the potential for northeast Oklahoma and make a push for progress. Before him, the leadership of our nation was moved to correct the inequality that existed thereto- fore.


Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska, co-sponsor of the Rural Electrification Act of 1935, himself bore witness to the disparity. “I have seen the grim drudgery and grind that has been the common lot of eight generations of American farm women,” said Norris. “I have seen the tallow candle in my own home, followed by the coal-oil lamp. I know what it is to take care of the farm chores by the flickering, undependable light of the lantern in the mud and cold rains of the fall and the snow and icy winds of winter. “I have seen the cities gradually acquire a night as light as day.


The first electric lines brought hope to rural America


Daily tasks were grueling before the arrival of electricity


“I can close my eyes and recall the innumerable scenes of harvest and the unending punishing tasks performed by hundreds of thousands of women, growing old prematurely, dying before their time, conscious of the great gap between their lives and the lives of those whom the accident of birth or choice place in towns and cities.


“Why shouldn’t I be interested in the emancipation of hundreds of thousands of farm women?”


The lack of opportunity for rural people was obvious when compared to the abundant privilege afforded those whose homes were in areas more densely populated. Municipalities were in the best position to balance the scales. However, they steered clear of building electric to outlying areas, feeling the idea was not economically


4 Northeast Connection


feasible. It took cooperatives, made up of men and women working in unison to achieve a common purpose, to bring electricity to the countryside. There were 14 such individuals who came together on behalf of North- east Oklahoma Electric Cooperative. With the sum $5,000 in hand, they applied for incorporation back on September 19, 1938. You may have known one of them. You may even be related to one of our original founders. Along with Mr. Freeman, there was Leo Spalding of Vinita, H. E. Burns of Mazie, Luther Marlin of


Salina, Dora Whitsel of Pryor, Fred Adair of Pryor, Van Chandler of Cleora, D. L. Stone of Miami, Claude Farley of Fairland, James Hall of Fairland, Roger Frost of Vinita, R. H. Lightfoot of Vinita, Guy Jennison of Miami, and J. V. Roberts of Vinita.


Seventy-five years later, we salute these individuals for bringing us into the light and helping establish the founda- tion for what we have today—a proud legacy of service as one of the largest distribution cooperatives in the state of Oklahoma and the nation.


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