Way Back When

(The Spirit is pleased to share with our readers vignettes of life in the 19th century as originally reported in past issues of the newspapers. These reproduced stories include their original headlines and spelling.)

Local Intelligence
(February 12, 1896)

School Boys Use a Live Wire For a Shocking Machine

One evening last week after school had been dismissed Eugene Winslow invited a half dozen of his schoolmates, boys whose ages would average about fifteen, to his home at Hon. R. C. Winslow's for the purpose of operating a printing press which had been profitably occupying a good share of his spare time lately. 

After diverting themselves for a while with the press their attention was centered upon a guy wire which was attached at one end to an incandescent wire, and the other end to a nail on the wall in the outbuilding where the light was hanging.

Boyish curiosity soon led them to make an investigation, and they discovered that the guy wire had worn off the covering on the incandescent wire and was charged with electric fluid. Not realizing how strong the current was the boys concluded that it could not possibly be so strong as to knock out their entire party, and at the suggestion of some one of their number they all joined hands and stood up in a row, to receive a shock, but the instant that Frank Lorenzo reached up and took hold of the live wire they all fell down in one promiscuous pile in agony and with hands gripped tightly.

An electrician would probably be able to tell better what would have happened to the boys had the weight of Lorenzo not been sufficient to break the live wire, which severed their connections with the electric plant. The boys subsequently extracted themselves from the heap and with all plain and brief conveniency departed for their several homes in a badly shocked condition.


John Dixon and James Smith

In a conversation with John Dixon, of Polk township, the other day, he said he had helped to build the first bridge across Sandy creek in Reynoldsville. There was no town there then. Mr. Dixon was a young man at the time. He is now eighty-nine years of age. He gets around pretty lively yet, and thinks nothing of a walk of four or five miles.

Another remarkable old man is James Smith, of Washington township. He is not extremely old, being in his eightieth year, but he looks like a man of sixty-five, and exhibits none of the feebleness of old age. His faculties are all keen, his eyesight and hearing being scarcely perceptibly impaired.

It is a pleasure to meet such vigorous old men, as it proves that correct habits of life are productive of longevity, and inspires a man with confidence that, if he lives in accordance with nature, he is likely to enjoy life, and have his days lengthened out to pretty near a century.