Wessels Living History Farm - York Nebraska Farming in the 1920s
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  Delco Lighting Plant advertisement  

In the winter, many farm families looked forward to church, when they could get there through the snow. There was no 24-hour per day electricity on farms in the 1920s. There were no evening television programs or video games. Mother often mended clothes or did needlework by the light of kerosene oil lamps.

The family gathered around a battery-powered radio, using headphones to hear their favorite programs. Herbert Heine said their family used a radio powered by batteries. All family talk stopped when "Ma Perkins" or the "Amos 'n' Andy Show" came on the radio. "Amos 'n' Andy" first aired in Chicago in 1928. It soon had a huge national audience that lasted for 30 years.

The program was a humorous look at stereotypical black characters… played by white actors. Later, the show moved to TV in 1951, but was met with protests from the black community. The show was cancelled after two years. But in the 1920s and 30s, the popularity of the show and others sold a lot of radios and, on the farms, a lot of Delco home battery systems to power the radios.

Do you ever fight with someone over the TV remote control? The same thing happened back in the 1920s – except they fought over the radio.

Darrel Ronne Photo
"I can remember my brother and I used to – The first radios you had a headphone, there was no speaker. And we'd fight over who was going to get the headphones… And there were shows that went on like 'Amos and Andy' and some of those we liked to listen to." -- Darrell Ronne Quicktime Logo (Quicktime required)


Walter Schmitt talks about the early days of electricity.

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Walter Schmitt Video

Written by Claudia Reinhardt.

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