My dad has always been interested in the history of business and economics because he was industrialist, as well.
We had a great time watching it together, and I liked when he asked questions of me. I paused the DVD, and I told him what I knew about the time period. He also told some stories that I have never heard before.
In one episode, J.P. Morgan and George Westinghouse were fighting over whose electricity was going to be used by the country. That led my dad to tell a story from his childhood. When he was born, electric lines did not reach to the house of his parents. However, his aunt and uncle who lived down the road had electricity. Because his aunt and uncle could keep milk refrigerated, my dad spent most of his time with them.
While I was growing up, I knew that my dad was as close to his aunt and uncle as he was his parents. In fact, he referred to his aunt as Mama. I never understood why this was. It was like he had two sets of parents, and, as a result, I had an extra set of grandparents. It turns out that it was all caused by some electric lines.
That’s really something to think about. The decision by the electric company to stop the lines at a certain point affected family relations for a couple of generations. I’m certain that the person who made that decision never realized the effects that decision would have. My dad’s aunt and uncle were childless, and my dad became the son they never had.
It’s funny what watching a history documentary will do. I learned about Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan, but I learned about my dad, too.
It also helped me with a blogging decision. A few years ago, I wrote a history of my dad’s business as a Christmas gift to him, and, over the next several posts, I am going to reproduce it on this blog. Along the way, I am going to break some self-imposed rules. I am going to use the names of the people who I write about. I do it because I am proud of my dad’s accomplishments and want others to know about them.
Those readers who live in my town may recognize some of the names and be able to put faces to names. Those who live in other parts of the world will have no clue who or what I am writing about. No matter who you are or where you live, I hope you enjoy reading the next few posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.