15 November 2009

When Sparks Flew






Hunt-Spiller Manufacturing Corporation Magazine Advertisement ca 1940 

My grandfather, William Otis Humphrey Barnes, died before I was born. He left behind my grandmother Vernetta, who I adored, even though most of our interaction consisted of her shushing me so she could chat with my mother! She won me over entirely by playing "Go Fish" with me every Sunday. I was fascinated by that dead animal fur thing she wore on her coat collar and have fond memories of going to sleep over at her house a few times. She died when I was only seven, so I didn't really know her well, just loved her like only a child can.

Right before I got married in 1988, I found a couple of letters that WOHB had written to Vernetta when they were still youngish. I was intrigued at the tone of his letters, and loved how he called her "Babe." Bill worked as an engineer, traveling around Eastern Massachusetts on various jobs. I thought this was a great description of what an electrical engineer did in 1919. He was obviously very homesick! Later he got a job with Hunt-Spiller Electronics in South Boston, an advertisement for which is shown above.

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Young Men’s Christian Association
Brockton, Mass.
Public Correspondence Table

15 Jul 1919
My Dear Babe,
I rec’d your letter
to-night. It made me feel very
good to get it. You are a good girl
to write so soon and so good a letter.
It was really two in one, wasn’t
it dear? I’ll tell you something
about my work. I get up a
6., go down the street and eat-
breakfast and take the G.41 train
from Brocton. To-night I
got a train back[interlined] that gets to Brockton
at 6.40, so I had my supper
and was cleaned up just before
I talked with you. Yesterday
I spent most all day walking
around with the chief engineer.
He was showing me all the
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[page two]
motors, generators and all the
electrical equipment and giving
me what information he could.

He seemd to be allright.
To-day I have bee connecting
up 6 motors, that is I have
been working on them but will
not have them all ready to run
for a couple of days. Besides that
I have worked on the electric
wiring on a gasoline engine
and put 4 new brushes in one of
the big motors. Well, I guess
that’s enough about my work.
I am going to write to Mr.
Maxwell just as soon as I
can decide just what I want
to tell him. I hope that
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[page three]
you will go to the movies
to-night, and have a good time.
I wish that I could go with
you. Well, you best little Wife,
be a good girl and take good care
of my three little girls.

Tell Priscilla and Louise that
their daddy loves them and
is sorry that he can’t be with
them. Good-night Babe darling,
write soon and often.

Lots of love to my three wonderfull girls.

Daddy Bill



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