My interest for street lights by 1980 still hadn't been fully recaptured, however I started to take a serious look at what was in service at the time. As I had done in the 1960s, I wrote to all the lamp and street light fixture manufacturers and got their catalog and technical bulletins. I got quite interested in the 18 and 35 watt low pressure sodium yard lights that were commonplace then and incorporated the ballast, socket and lamp from a couple of these into two cobra-style mercury vapor fixtures. I thought the yellow light from these looked pretty neat and different at night!
In January 1981 I was hired by a municipal light department in my area and worked for them until my departure a few years ago. During early 1982 a campaign was staged to convert all streetlights on the system to HPS. It is hard to believe, looking back, that up until 1981 they were still installing low wattage 1000 lumen multiple fixtures as replacements and along the newer side roads. These were 92-watt lamps in NEMA style yard light fixtures with an open bottomed refractor, the head containing a socket and nothing else. There were all sorts of other lights around town then. Many were radial wave types converted from series operation to multiple and some of these fixtures had porcelain heads mounted on ornate 1 1/4 inch diameter pipe arms with scroll type under-supports. Others were General Electric and Westinghouse (stamped aluminum) OV-20 400-watt mercury luminaries that were installed in the town's center in 1948; Line Materials and Revere mercury fixtures of various designs and various oddball lights that I have not seen elsewhere since. Apparently there was absolutely no consistency to the fixtures they were buying through the years! During the midst of our HPS assault, my interest for older lights and their accessories definitely was reawakening. With most of the removals being junked, I saved some fixtures, but as I look back, I wish I brought home more than I did. Of special interest and memory to me were the dozen or so suspension lights scattered around town. Some were radial wave and others mercury. The incandescent ones sometimes had a porcelain head and the mercurys were 100 or 175 watt in aluminum heads outfitted with round style glass globes. My favorite is an early OV-20 400 watt mercury that was mounted on a span wire across a busy intersection and was the only one of its type I have ever seen. It survived without a scratch. I nabbed it instantly from the top of our long and tall metal dumpster upon seeing it as I approached our back door at work when I came in that morning. I managed to retrieve about all of suspension fixtures removed, except for two or three that someone else kept or I missed during my daily dumpster inspections. I still have all of the lights I rescued from this conversion; except for a few I either traded or gave to other street lighting enthusiasts during later years. I also made certain I obtained some accessories that were being tossed away, such as the good old clear-ended phosphor BT shape mercury lamps and inside painted red plastic Fisher Pierce 500 watt photocontrols that I loved as a kid. So, I continued to resurrect my street lighting collection to a degree, having recaptured some of the "lost" items from my earlier years. This street lighting conversion was completed during late 1983 and by that time I felt I had a respectable assortment of these artifacts. I paid some attention to them at that time, however, most of my time was involved with insulators and getting the house renovated.
My interest in insulators and street lights was even more heightened during 1987. Very unfortunately, my late mother was diagnosed with cancer that May and passed away six months later. I took the loss badly and knew I had to get involved with hobbies and projects to help me get through my grief. Having already established pastimes with my insulators and streetlights, I began to pursue these avocations in earnest; spending much more time on these hobbies.
PRESERVATION OF ENDANGERED STREET LIGHTS
In early 1988 I began inventorying the older lights still in service within the suburbs on this side of Boston and photographed many of the more interesting and different ones. This project has been ongoing since and I have taken photos of vintage street lights throughout much of central and southern New England.
As a result, I have many photo albums filled with classic streetlight fixtures, many of which have since been taken down, victims of the conversion to HPS. Much of this photography is close up, so fixture detail can be readily seen.