THE BIG MOVE AND THE SURVIVORS
During September 1967 my life and a lot of things I had been doing changed. My parents split up for good and I resided in "rented" limited space quarters until 1978. During the 1967 move a lot of my street lighting stuff got tossed away or left behind because our house was put up for sale and we then moved in with my grandparents. Adding to this injury, two subsequent moves during the following 11 years made it necessary to thin more and more items out because of diminishing storage space. My insulator collection, however, remained intact. Most of my early-day fixture literature, lamps, parts, etc., bit the dust. Fortunately there were a few survivors of all these years. Those that "made it" hold a very special place in my collection today. These include: an unused General Electric NA-9 low pressure sodium lamp, complete with their special outer flasks, that was sent to me by G-E in 1965; several 100 and 175 watt clear mercury lamps of mid 1960s vintage that never saw service; a couple unused phosphor coated 400 watt mercury lamps of similar vintage; and three General Electric 100 watt mercury lamps with T-10 outer bulbs and admediun screw bases that a nearby municipal utility once used. Two of these lamps are unused and each has a different arc tube support configuration. The utility used them in a few Wheeler cast aluminum round sided fixtures with the ballast and socket built into it, without a photocontrol receptacle. These had Wheeler porcelain enameled "half moon" reflectors with a collar that was deeper and specially adapted for mercury installations. I never saw one of these fixtures in service but they were among the earliest 100-watt mercury fixtures used around here, circa 1953. These were internally wired and operated from a remotely mounted photocontrol. Two of the ballasts with the original admedium sockets attached to them are among the "survivors". The last of these was removed around 1979. It took me many years, until 1997, before I finally acquired the correct Wheeler fixture to house the ballast and socket (and which was originally incandescent). Having the correct reflector from the 1979 removal, I am proud to own a complete example of one of these rare and early examples of low wattage mercury street lighting!
OH YES, STREET LIGHTS, YOU SAID?
From 1967 to 1978 my interest and attention paid to the subject of street lights diminished considerably. I had no backyard to set up and activate displays and hardly any room to store things; increased interest in collecting insulators; going to college; pursuing girls and fancy cars; other hobbies, etc. So for quite a while I did not pay very much attention to what was going on in the world of street lighting.
From the early to mid 1970s many of the remaining incandescents in this area residing on side streets were converted to 100 or 175 watt mercurys and what was left of the higher wattage incandescents were changed out to 400 watt mercury luminaries. In a few locations where old remote-ballasted 400-watt mercury fixtures ran along primary roadways, stretches of these were upgraded to 400 watt HPS, while other strings of nostalgic 400-watt mercury fixtures happened to survive. HPS streetlighting made its formal debut in 1974 during the Arab oil embargo. Some utilities around here were quick to catch on to HPS; others continued to install mercury lights. The energy crisis was also responsible for the removal of a number of streetlights, mainly along major roads in cities whose streetlighting operating budgets were adversely affected by much higher electricity costs. That meant quite a few lights were permanently taken down; the oldest and classic of these were not reused and therefore scrapped. I only casually noticed the newer lights here and there and HPS at night where mercury illumination had been. I paid more attention during those 11 years to the fancy cars on the street, tunes on my FM radio and 8-track player and glancing at the girls walking along the street. So, there wasn't much looking up for a while.
FINALLY, MY OWN HOME AND BACK YARD!
During September 1978 my sister and I bought a 200 year old house that needed repairs (the same one I live in now). Ambitious to restore the dwelling to its original charm, one of the first things that had to be done was to illuminate the otherwise pitch-black back yard. So, off to K-mart I went and purchased a Norelco 175 watt mercury yard light fixture, which was fully equipped with a photocontrol, short bracket arm and clear lamp. I installed it up about 15 feet in a tree directly behind the house. It wasn't the greatest of lights but how wonderful it was to have a back yard again and to pursue a little bit of outdoors lighting showmanship! Set on approximately one-half acre and adequate privacy, our yard was perfect to set up more lights and being a kid again. The K-mart fixture eventually was superseded by a 100 watt HPS General Electric M-250 to my delight in 1979. I thought it was quite something to have such a state of the art light source behind my house! I assembled the fixture using parts salvaged from defective fixtures acquired from one of the municipal utilities I used to frequent as a kid. Our local utility gave me a couple aluminum 6 foot pipe arms pulled from a literally 30 foot high pile of junked incandescent lights that year, so I finally got away from the short, stubby yard light bracket I had been using. I remembered that the aluminum four foot arm I had saved during our 1967 move was somewhere in my grandfather's basement, so I found it and used it for yet another light elsewhere in our yard. It was too bad I did still not have the old Westinghouse OV-20 I had mounted on it from my earlier days, but you can still see the bite marks on the fixture's end from where I installed it.