Sunday, January 15, 2012

Power's out!

Every porch has a shelf full of barn lanterns, ready for power outage or parties.

    I live in a very rural part of Missouri, about 70 miles from a major city. Every time the wind blows or it rains, we seem to loose electric power. Sometimes it is only for a few minutes, but has been out for days. It always seems to happen in the hottest weather of summer or the coldest of winter. When ever it happens, it is not fun and you have to be prepared. I first experienced this  in the spring of 2008. You see, My Old Historic House, is about 200 feet from the Mississippi River. When I was thinking about buying my house, my sister said, "don't buy that house it floods." I answered, "well the last flood was in 1993 and they said that was a hundred year flood". Well, this was 2006, and I would be dead in  hundred years. Well, I bought it and in 2008, we had another one of those so called, "100 year floods." I was living in St.Louis at the time and spending weekends  here. I had to rush to Clarksville when the predictions were that the flood was to be as big, if not bigger, than the 1993 flood. We started sandbagging as soon as I got here and the very next day, we lost power. The electric company cut the lines for safety.I spent 6 weeks in that house with no electric, gas, water or bathroom. It was a challenge. But I soon learned, one does what they have to do.
    I  went back to the old days.Kerosene lamps and lanterns. I had a lot of them around, why not use them? My sister  bought me some lamp oil and I was in business. One lantern was hung on every porch., one in the kitchen. several in the trees and on hooks in the yard. When all these were lite, there was a pretty good lighted path around and about my house. Almost every evening, my first job was to fill all the lamps and lanterns with oil.  I seemed to get through it much better by making a game of it. It was like a scene from a movie, me walking about with my lanterns and lamps.I kinda felt like Scarlett, as she and Rhett left Atlanta and left the lamp burning at the front gate.

This blue lamp in my kitchen is the first one I go for when the power goes out.
This is a favorite,I got it  from the famous, Stark Nursery family.

   Kerosene lamps date back to about 1850. They were much like a candle. When the oil burns down so does the wick. In England these lamps were called pariffan lamps. This type of lamp was invented in America by Robert Daisy in 1853. The Abraham Gesner Kerosene Gaslight Company were the first to produce these lamps in American around 1860.This type of lighting made it much easily to light American homes. Kerosene was very cheap, easy to get and  for the first time in history, American home owners had better lighting.
   Today I have lamps scattered about the house. I try and keep one in almost every room. It is just handy when that power is lost. Matches play a big roll in these lamps and without them it is hard to use them. I discovered  waterproof matches also during the flood. They can be bought at sporting good shops and sure come in handy.I have a land line for my phone as well, as phones now days, don't seem to work with out electric. I hate anything with batteries. Sometimes there is no choice, as the only way to have certain products, like remotes, is to use a battery. I give in, but it is not my first choice.

I like to place several oil lamps by the front door when I am having parties at night. The chimneys keep the wind from blowing out the flame.

I hung them on hooks, during the flood and also  for night parties.

   I not only use the lanterns and lamps when the power goes out, I also use them for night parties and tours. I hang the lanterns on hooks in the yard, down the sidewalks and in trees in the garden. Oil lamps make a beautiful soft glow and the chimneys keep them from blowing out in the wind. I often place several on a table by the front door when having and evening party.They make such a warm welcome. Placing  lighted kerosene lamps about the house during a evening party creates a  mood that is perfect for an 1845 house. They are also much safer than candles.
  I hope you will come by sometime soon for a tour. I will leave the oil lamps burning and Sissy Dog will always meet you with a jump and a kiss.

This beautiful cranberry banquet lamp is really pretty to light for parties. It is in my middle bedroom and lights a nice path when the power is out.

This one has an unusual built in match holder and striker , makes it really handy.

Built in striker.


Antique Style said...

Awesome Richard! You're so resourceful. My daughter is going back to St. Louis today from Calif and is leaving 65 degress for 9 degrees?!! Stay warm, I hope you have a big pile of firewood too.

You've made a great case for oil lamps. I am going to look for some at the next antique show!

Sweet Old Vintage said...

It is not fun with no electricity but 6 weeks... I cannot imagine....Hope you stay in comfort and I have never seen the lamp with the match storage area and striker... We have a generator we purchased a couple years ago and have not resorted to it yet but came close last year....

Charlotte Wilson said...

Hi Richard,
I love this post! The light from kerosene lamps is so romantic and soft. And perfect when you lose power. I didn't realize you were that close to the river. I could see it in one of your photos.
I think I am going to go out and buy some lamps now.


Priscilla said...

I love the blue and white ones. I'm a sucker for anything blue and white.

Anonymous said...

Whilst it is no fun being without power, these beautiful lamps must go some way to alleviating the suffering! The cranberry banquet lamp is so pretty.

we three dogs and me said...

Just went through an ice storm Lights flickered but lucky they didn't go out. About 10 years ago an ice storm hit all of the St Lawrence river. We were with out electric for 13 days. We also had a micro burt before that which took all telephone poles down for hundreds of miles.Been there done that.Now all I got is flashlights with no batteries.My car was 1/4 inch of ice. Bad stuff

Akissfromthepast said...

its always good to have those kind of lightning, just in case.. and they look great!

Historical Ken said...

Here is a timely quote from my own blog (Passion for the Past: )------
"If the only light and heat comes from candles and fireplaces because of a power outage at your house, it is frustrating and annoying - but when it comes in the form of intimate tours of a 19th-century village, it is charming and peaceful."

Barbara F. said...

I cannot imagine six weeks with no electricity, I would be in a panic after just six hours! I have camping lanterns but they are battery operated. I might look into these oil lamps. Stay warm, Richard, and Sissie Dog too. xo

Gary said...


I to know the value of having oil lamps and lanterns handy. While our collection of lamps are no where as decorative and gorgeous as yours they still work wonderful in illuminating a dark home when the power goes out.

And much like yourself we use lamps and lanterns outside when hosting parties. Instead of regular lamp oil we use the citronella oil used in tiki torches to help keep insects away. – gary

Curtains in My Tree said...

I love the lamp with the match holder, I have never seen one of those.
I would love to come to one of your yard parties and see all the lanterns burning about.
We could be Rhett & Scarlett LOL

I sold all my lanterns at the flea market

Yours are all so pretty as everything else in your mansion

love to sissy

Unknown said...

What a lovely collection of oil lamps and so much history too. It sure was hard back in the day of lamplight. It's great to have them on hand, when lights are out for some time. I had a modern day lamp but the glass was so thin I was afraid of it breaking. The glass on these look much heavier. Are they?
So interesting..

Deanna said...

Howdy Richard. Hope you're having a great day.

I like the lanterns on the outdoor hooks. Really neat.
Also the lamp with a special place that holds the matches. Nifty feature.

Having the lanterns and lamps adds a lot of character to your lovely home by the river.

Marcia said...

Thank you for the beautiful and nostalgic look at oil lamps and the beautiful ambiance they can bring! Makes me anticipate springtime and an evening chat on your lantern-embellished porch, Richard!

Olive said...

Richard, the oil lamps are beautiful and functional. It is best to always be prepared in an old house. Your house is gorgeous-who needs columns? We keep oil lamps handy at our old tumble down house in the middle of Georgia, we must be very careful however as it is made of fatlighter and could catch fire and be gone in minutes. Olive

Johanna Gehrlein said...

Hi Richard,
really interesting to see the one with built in match holder and striker. I have never seen that before.
Best greetings, Johanna

outjunking said...

How romantic. Oil lamps everywhere. I really like the idea of using them when guest come over.
Have a great week,

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Love that you use your lamps! They will work for it seems forever and I think your house likes it when you use them! Probably looks much better by lamp light than electric anyway! And living history to boot. The lighting and extinguishing of the lamps each night was a necessity that we don't often think about when flipping on and off our convenient electric switches.

Our Hopeful Home said...

I feel your pain. The village we live in is notorious for losing power. Like you said, wind, rain, snow, you name it, power's out. We have flash lights and candles strategically placed throughout the house. The kids think it's a real adventure! Me, not so much lol. Hang in there, hope it's back on in no time for you.

lvroftiques said...

We had a power outage quite a few years ago and once was enough....Went out and bought a backup generator and it was some of the best money we've ever spent. However I love the look and romance of kerosene lanterns and lamps, they're really lovely! And of course Richard your lanterns aren't the ole garden variety *winks* I can imagine how enchanted your guests must feel when they see all those glowing lanterns! Vanna

Dreamgoddess said...

Richard, your lamps are so pretty! The cranberry is my favorite. I love the soft glow from them. said...

I love the lamp with the match holder.You poor thing you really did live like a pioneer during the flood-but thank goodness, inconvenience was all that happened.

Angie @ Knick of Time said...

I'm featuring you, your lamps and your story and Knick of Time Tuesday Vintage Style Party this week!

We didn't lose power during the flood of '08 (we lived north of Hannibal), but we helped with the sandbagging efforts to keep the river out of Canton, MO, so your story, as well as your lovely collection of lamps brought back memories.

Feel free to grab my "I was Featured" button!

Angie @ Knick of Time

Love Of Quilts said...

I see how close the river was in one picture. I don't see how you keep it from flooding. That had to be a hard time to be with out power for so long...its good you had all the lamps. I only have one...thank the lord I have never had to use it.

Heirloom treasures said...

As usual Richard,everything is lovely. I note you have some blue and white,my favourite. A few of us bloggers have blogged blue today.

I think I like the cranberry glass lamp the best,but they are all really nice.
:) jeanetteann

SImple and Serene Living said...

You have a fabulous collection of oil lamps. It is definitely a good idea to keep them handy. Much safer then candles and provide more light during inevitable power outages. Love the one with the striker.

victorian parlor II said...


I love how you take an unpleasant situation and make it positive! Your lamps are beautiful! Thanks for sharing and I hope you get your power back very soon:).



Anonymous said...

I understand about power outtages, having moved from a neighborhood with extremely stable power to one that hiccups and blinks frequently for no real reason. The year before I moved into my present house, the street lost power from an ice storm for 14 days. No one told me this until after I'd signed the closing papers.

I collect oil lamps. LOVE THEM! But I can't burn them or candles because of my allergies. I keep a powerful camping lantern with huge batteries for short-term emergencies and have a land line phone for when the cordless ones go out.

You have many beautiful lamps in your collection. The cranberry one is a real eye-catcher. What a pleasant ritual--lighting the lamps. Like winding all the old clocks in the house on Sundays.


JC said...

I love early lighting. I have quite a few nice old lamps, including an Aladdin (these are super bright and help heat a room if the power goes out in the winter), several clear lamps, a duplex burner lamp (2 wicks with a gas-style bowl shade & chimney), and even a pair of whale oil lamps (from the 1830s-40s) and a few reproduction whale/fluid lamps. Many can be seen here:!cpZZ2QQtppZZ16

Pearl said...

Your lamps are beautiful what a collection. I hope your electricity comes back on soon. But in the mean time "its so romantic"!

Anonymous said...

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By the way, I've written to Romantic Homes magazine, recommending that they mention your blog in their monthly "Sites We Love" column.

Fingers crossed!

Babs said...

Your lamps and lanterns are so pretty. I really like the lanterns on hooks welcoming. I have several lamps I'd forgotten about. Thanks for the reminder...I need to check on them to see if they're still intact. I think they're hiding behind the paint cans in the shed.

Liz@ HomeandGardeningWithLiz said...

I hope you don't have to go through another flood ever again- but the river is close!
I can just visualize your going around prepping each lamp for the evenings! I truly hate it when we lose power! It happened a year ago and we bought our own generator. Anything more than a few hours and the refrigerator things can go bad!
You have a great collection of oil lamps. My Mom used to put a scented oil in a pot during the smelled so good!
I only have candles on hand.

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