Like much of the United States, at one time telephone lines went along the railroad tracks that ran through the property of the house I grew up in. There were power lines as well, but they were active and tended by the local power company, Niagara Mohawk. The telephone lines had come down years before the house was built; I was in my early teens when I discovered the old poles lying in the woods adjacent to the tracks.
Many of the fallen poles still had their glass insulators on the crossbeams. Curiously, they were easy to screw off the pole; I collected several and brought them back to the house. When my dad saw them in the garage after one of my scavenger runs, he went out in the woods with me and helped me bring back more. I cleaned them up after school. Some were blue, some were green, some were clear glass.
Now here’s more proof that I was a very odd child, well on my way to my eccentric middle aged persona I carry today. I decided to use those glass insulators to string my own wires through the woods between the house and the railroad tracks. I was always fascinated with electricity, but probably more fascinated with anything that was connected to something else. So I grabbed numerous lengths of baling twine from the family farm across the street and ran baling twine on century old glass insulators installed on trees and my own crossbars made of scrap woods left over from the construction of the house. The baling twine ran for nearly three and a half acres. It would be several years before it would come down; there’s probably still glass insulators spread out in the woods behind the house. It wasn’t like I was building a workable tin can telephone system or stringing lights, I was just putting rope up in the trees. Tarzan would have a field day back there.
Once in a while I wonder if the new owners of the property come across any evidence of my idiosyncrasies. Detailed doorbell wiring instructions written on the floor joists in the basement. Make shift clocks made out of paper plates tacked to a closet wall. Baling twine tied to glass insulators and strung from tree to tree, limb to limb.
Oh well, it’s all part of my storybook.