Fortunately there was another major utility about an hour's bike ride away and a few smaller municipal ones in the area who also understood and actually encouraged my street lighting and insulator collecting pursuits. I sometimes took up to two-hour (one way!) treks to these locations and it was well worth it because the linemen and supervisors I met would give you anything you wanted. Because of the long bike rides, which never bothered me except in harsh, cold weather, goodies brought home from these distant locations were limited to lighter items such as light bulbs, sockets, a radial wave reflector or two, or just one incandescent street lighting head. Fortunately I had relatives who lived closer to some of these locations and during school vacations I arranged to spend time with them, also bringing back (via bicycle) fixtures and other things I could not feasibly lug over longer distances. Collecting street lights as a kid was possible but I had to really work to get them.

The other utilities and the local line crews I tagged along with were indeed a fine resource for my collections and ever advancing outdoor lighting showmanship. Up until 1967 our utility was conducting an ongoing campaign to get rid of all of their series circuits and to convert them to multiple. This meant all those nostalgic Wheeler series incandescents I had known were being replaced by upswing arm multiple radial wave lights and others to mercury. Back in those days the antiquated lights being removed had little or no value to me. I was more interested in their parts, such as reflectors, sockets and lamps. Oddly, my desires were to acquire newer lights, such as the multiple incandescents they were installing and any mercury vapor fixtures. The latter were very difficult to come by and probably the only one I ever owned in those days was a cast aluminum Westinghouse OV-20. I got it in 1966 and painted it light gray so it would resemble one of the newer mercury fixtures. The municipal light department who gave it to me also provided a brand new four-foot aluminum bracket arm, a 100-watt mercury ballast that ran on 120 volts, a twist-lock photocontrol assembly and all of the other accessories to properly operate it. I mounted it on "my pole" which was an eight footer located in our backyard's back corner, outfitted with a crossarm and several insulators, as well as the two 12-gauge wires that led back to the house. My parents did not mind my lighting and display projects for the most part. I kept them simple and fairly much out of direct vision. My mother once commented that one of my lights made for great security lighting, which definitely was encouraging! My father though, was rather concerned about a 14 year old fooling around with house current, so I pacified his worries by showing him the "transformer" (which really was the 100 watt mercury lamp core and coil ballast) that stepped the voltage to a safe level, operating the mercury fixture remotely located outside. I ran the wires outside my bedroom window, through a couple trees and from there to my pole.

The ballast and wall plug right nearby were located right near my bed for convenient operation. My father worked a second shift a couple towns away so just to be safe I made certain all was unplugged when he arrived home by 11:15 PM. I believed that something that would be out of sight would also be out of mind. So, if something ran off a transformer, I was OK. My incandescent lights operated from a 12-volt, 10-ampere capacity Sears battery charger that I had long saved up for. It sat next to my mercury vapor ballast. Incandescent fixtures were scattered, usually up 10 or 15 feet up in a few trees. All were powered by my battery charger output. One of these had a 1000 lumen series lamp (which requires about 11 or 12 volts) and all others were 12 volt Christmas tree bulbs that I scraped clear of paint. For realism, I cut open the burned out incandescents I had been acquiring and slipped the 12 volt lamps into the bulb enclosure. The outer bulb was cut open with a hacksaw with a portion of the brass screw threading still remaining. This allowed me to screw the full sized outer bulb into the streetlight's socket, which contained the small 12-volt lamp suspended within. This innovation sure did make my installations look real, especially when viewed illuminated at night. Most of these fixtures were mounted on 4 foot, 3/4 inch diameter pipe arm with the usual 90 degree bend at the end that received a top mounted Wheeler cast aluminum can-shaped multiple fixture. All had screw-on type reflectors and I often repainted them white for the "new look". The only series heads I cared to bother with were the Wheeler cast aluminum round-sided type, having a gray porcelain bushing mounted into it for external wiring. These fixtures were mounted horizontally on 1 1/4 inch diameter arms and were otherwise identical to the round-sided Wheeler mercury type with glass open bottomed refractors I described earlier.

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