Select Page

Glass Insulators, Bygone Eras

Antique Glass Insulators

Antique Glass Insulators

On Sunday, we piled in the Jeep and drove an hour north down the back roads of Logan County. For a few hours I escaped all the gray things that help me navigate my life. The highways, the boulevards the little white lies I tell myself.

If I were the wind, I would have been a north gale blowing out of the concrete jungle. I rushed through the morning air, and the sky became bluer with every passing mile.

The kids wanted to roll down their windows, but with the front windows up, we got a wind pattern that created a noise that drove us all crazy.

Why can’t this drive — why can’t life — be perfect? Why do people I love have to die?

I never heard this bmp, bmp, bmp, bmp, bmp when I was a kid hanging my head out the window of my dad’s big white Oldsmobile. Curse aerodynamics and progress.

I passed a dozen or more houses between Guthrie and Mulhall. Rock and wood in wide open spaces. How do people on the prairie live? Are they happier than me? And why I am such an ungrateful beast?

I saw a turkey vulture sitting on the fence. I got within two feet of him, before he flew away. He was stunning, and reminded me that sometimes, the ugly soar.

There were also scissor tails and a giant hawk. It was like magic. Two bright red cardinals, chasing each other down the highway. Has Oklahoma always been this beautiful? I guess I’m just now waking up from my adolescent stupor.

We stopped for lunch at Lucille’s. Fried chicken and blackberry cobbler. And, then we turned around and headed home.

I clenched the steering wheel on the two-lane bridge over the Cimmarron River and closed my eyes as I drove over Skeleton Creek.

I try to avoid the white-knuckle lanes of life.

Here on State Highway 77, in the township of Lawrie – basically just a little spot in the road — I saw Something absolutely amazing. Just south of the Rocking B ranch, a dozen or more old T-Posts linking communication wires. Rays of sunlight streaming through dozens of colorful glass insulators. Purple, amber and aqua blue. They’ve been there at least since the 1930s. Maybe longer. A piece of Oklahoma’s industrial history, preserved, not vanished. Not yet anyway.

Why must we grow obsolete?

When I was little my father would take us on drives to nowhere special. He’d point out the window to something he found exceptional and I’d feign interest to avoid conflict. Now, I wonder what he was pointing at

I’m sure it’s all the magnificent things I’m seeing now that I want my children to see. The insulators made me happy. I hope they’ll make you happy, too.

Update July 2013

Yesterday, I took my mom to see the glass insulators. It’s been the best July I can ever remember. Plenty of rainfall and cool nights here and there. Last night was no exception, and I was able to get lots of pictures. The insulators are on the telephone poles that run parallel to the Santa Fe railroad.

Update March 2015

I’m sad to report that all the poles and glass insulators have been removed.

Here is a lovely poem by Wesley Willis written in 2007. It’s called Emeralds in the Sky and it’s about glass insulators. I found it on the blog Serendipity.

Emeralds in the Sky

A booming train derailed the silent night
The fallen poles in skins of moss unroll
A trains conductor pounding rails in-flight
Around the glass, and through the wires control

The rare conductors weren’t common names
Those colored jewels, emeralds in the sky
Atop the threaded perch, flamboyant flames
Where mustard yeller insulators spy

A million miles of wire across this land
Converting sounds from golden amber girls
To ears of purple ponies on demand
With pleated skirts a dancing dancer whirls

The hemingrays beside the lost zicme
Between the poles a catenaries sag
Our saddened faces watch a crosses plea
In piles of poles and crosses, raise the flag

Memories wonder through our minds of glass
Our crystal balls of color now amass
In homes of those who wonder why, and as
Memories never fading from our eyes
Our minds release the emeralds to the skies.

–Wesley Willis, 2007

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

Thank you for subscribing. Posts are delivered ONCE A WEEK on Sundays at 6 p.m. You can unsubscribe anytime with one click. Also, we will not share your email address with anyone.
Posted in:

1 Comment

  1. Andi

    How come no more posting of transcripts?


Share Your Thoughts

Pin It on Pinterest