This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
| member matters Life before


Lights Aging co-op members remember darker days


Neither Pence nor Crain is a stranger to tough times, but you'll never hear them whining. When asked what life was like before electricity, both gentlemen offered the same straightforward response: "'Well, it was dark."


Crain keeps an old kerosene lantern above his fireplace as a souvenir of darker days. "Those lamps barely lit up the kitchen table, but after we got electricity, you could see all the way around the room," he marveled.


Choctaw Electric organized in 1940, but World War II halted line construction. It was 1949 before electricity reached the Crain and Pence homesteads. "We had no running water," Pence recalled. "We had to haul it in, but we made it. Got a lot easier after electric, though."


Herschel Pence of Hugo witnessed the advent of electricity in southeast Oklahoma. Pence, age 105, is a lifelong member of Choctaw Electric Cooperative. PHOTO/JENNIFER BOLING, CEC.


changes that transformed the nation and sometimes the world.


L


The automobile. Electric lights. Television. The Internet. With almost two hundred years of history between the pair, Choctaw County residents Herschel Pence and Arnold Crain watched horse and wagon give way to Ford pickup trucks. They remember 15 cent movie tickets and understand the joy of hot running water, indoor plumbing, and refrigerated food.


Both men are longtime members of Choctaw Electric Cooperative. Crain, age 86, lives four miles south of Hugo. Pence, age 105, lives with his son and daughter- in-law in Hugo. Until 2013, he lived by himself in his childhood home, just a mile or so down the road from Crain.


The men are neighbors and friends. "Herschel has known me all of my life," said Crain. Like many of Pence's acquaintances, Crain finds his elder neighbor's longevity remarkable.


4 | JANUARY 2017 | CEC Inside Your Co-op


ike old trees, their roots run deep in Choctaw County. Their lives bear witness to astounding


Pence can out-walk many folks half his age. Until August, he still drove. According to daughter-in-law, Carolyn Pence, his medication regimen consists of one multivitamin per day. While his hearing is poor, that doesn't stop Pence from keeping an active social calendar— weekly domino games, frequent meals at local senior citizen's centers, and daily visits to his old home place where he checks his mail and sits awhile.


Crain recalls the amazement of seeing light spilling from every window in his home. "It was a proud time for everyone out here when we got electricity," he said. "If it weren't for Choctaw Electric, we'd still be sitting in the dark."


He remembers cold food storage as one of the biggest benefits of electricity. Before refrigerators, families relied on a wooden ice box to keep food and milk cool. "The ice man would come twice a week, and we'd hang a sign on the house telling him how much ice we needed," Crain recalled. "If we were making homemade ice cream, we'd have to order a bit more."


Most country folks used a smokehouse to cure meats generously coated with salt and sugar. A good milk cow provided milk and butter; chickens offered eggs and a vegetable garden produced potatoes, peas, corn and other staples.


"We didn't know we were poor because we always had plenty to eat," Crain said.


Pence agreed. Times were tough, but they got by. Growing up, he recalls eating a lot of beans and potatoes. "If you didn't eat beans and taters, you didn't eat," he said.


Arnold Crain, age 86, remains an active member of his electric co-op. PHOTO/JENNIFER BOLING, CEC.


Today, Arnold Crain and Herschel Pence remain active members of Choctaw Electric Cooperative, always attending meetings and participating in elections. Like their co-op, they've come a long way and show little sign of slowing down.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112