My Introduction to Electricity

I’ve dabbled in electronics my entire life, both as a hobby and a J-O-B.

Growing up during my adolescent years we lived out in the country in an area we called “Up in the Valley”.  My dad was managing his step uncle’s “Christmas Tree Farm”.  There was about 118 acres of land which had several fields of Christmas trees and each November we would cut down several hundred trees and big trucks would come and take them away for sale.

One of the jobs was to keep the trees trimmed so they had a nice shape when it came time to cut them down.  One of the tools used to do this was called a “lopper”.  This tool was about three feet long and made of heavy metal.  It had a set of very sharp jaws on one end and round wooden handles on the other.

The house we lived in was an old two story wood frame farm house.  I can still recall lying on my bed and looking up into the roof of the house and seeing huge long 10 inch square beams that                              were held together by large round wooden pegs, that’s how old the house was.  Electrical power to the house was my means of three large wires running from the main road.  They came down the side of the house and connected to the electrical meter and down further and into the basement to the fuse box.  The wire from the meter to the fuse box was sheathed inside of large clothe insulation.

One lazy afternoon I got bored and got my hands on a pair of dad’s loppers.  I spied the large gray wire coming from the electric meter and into the basement and thought that would be a nice thing to test the cutting capability of those loppers.  I opened the loppers up as far as my little arms would reach and put the jaws around the wire.  For some unknown reason I gripped the wooden handles before I started closing the jaws around the wire.

When the jaws finally cut through the thick insulation of the wire, the sparks started flying.  Needless to say it ruined a nice set of loppers.  The next thing I know mom is standing next to me reading me the riot act and wait till your father gets home!.  I actually saw the fireworks twice that day, the instant the jaws cut into the bare wires, then again when my dad got home.                                                 

For my senior year of high school I moved in with my mom in Elmira, New York.  There was my sisters Annette and Judy and brother Joe and myself. 
Annette was in the 9th grade and Joe and Judy hadn’t started school yet.

Electronics had been my hobby and I was always building some little gadget from whatever parts I could scrounge.

One Friday night I was bored, Joe and Judy were playing in the living room and Annette had gone out with her friends.

I had and old mercury switch, the type used in the old round faced thermostats and a xenon flashtube transformer.  From a D size battery the transformer
could generate about 1,500 2,000 volts and very low current, just enough to give a body a good jolt.

I took the mercury switch and wired it to the door bell.  Then I mounted the switch to the springs on Annette’s bed, it was a very old bed that had open
box springs.  Now every time she would lie down in her bed the door bell would Buzz.  Now if she only sat on the side of the bed nothing would happen.

She came home around 12:30am and I could hear her and her friends saying their goodbyes.  She wasted no time getting into bed and of course the door bell
started ringing.  I could hear her jump out of bed and run to the front door.  She did this a couple of times, then I could hear her set down on the edge of her
bed and waited several minutes before lying down in the bed and of course the bell would ring again.  She did this a couple of times till her temper got the
best of her and she flung the front door open cussing and swearing at whoever was play with the door bell.  Needless to say she ended up sleeping on the coach that night.

Now the xenon transformer and the battery.  I made a momentary contact switch at the hinge of the refrigerator and connect the transformer and battery behind
the fridge so nobody would see it.

I then wound some small bare wire around the handle of the fridge.  So if someone grabbed the fridge handle and opened the door it would send several thousand
volts of electricity through the wires of the handle and through some unsuspecting soul.

Needless to say Annette never even went into the kitchen that night.  However, I got up around 4am to get a drink of cold water.  I grabbed the fridge handle and
opened the door.  I must have jumped four feet into the air.  I grabbed the cold water pitcher and slammed the door shut.  I poured a glass of water and drank it. 
Put the glass down on the side of the sink, picked up the pitcher of cold water and grabbed the fridge door handle, well you can imagine the rest.
I immediately removed the batter from it’s holder.


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