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Dawn of a New Day “


They (the members) were so grateful to get electricity. They were also amazed at it, couldn’t understand how it worked. One gentleman commented after he had lights that it was the first time he’d ever seen his wife without daylight. It is unbe- lievable how important the REA and the cooperatives were to the folks in this area, and to the farmers especially.


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- Carl Booher, Virgina McClain’s father, from a 1989 interview with Central Electric Cooperative


” 16 WWW.OKL.COOP


Boohers on the Farm


Virginia was born in 1923 to Carl and Bess Booher. The oldest child, she had one younger brother, Ed Patrick. Her parents acquired a farming property in Luther in 1926. Booher operated the farm and ran a dairy. Virginia recalls her father was also a dirt farmer. In a 1989 CREC newsletter, Booher described the routine of his day: “I would wake up at 4 o’clock to stir the cows. Then I’d milk all of them by hand. It was real milk then, too, not like what you buy today.” Virginia has many special memories of her childhood and teenage years on the farm—though none of them involve electricity. Throughout her childhood in north-central Oklahoma, Virginia was brought up without electric service. When she graduated from Luther High School in 1941, her family’s farmhouse still did not have electricity. “I remember OG&E had a power plant 10 miles from our property. Dad contacted OG&E about getting electric, but we were told it would cost nearly $8,000 a person. He then got busy with the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) movement,” Virginia recalls.


Life on the farm was joyful, but not without its toils. A famous pie maker, Bess Booher had her system down


in the household’s kitchen. When Carl Booher woke at 4 in the morning to milk the cows, Bess would have hot biscuits and some type of meat ready—usually rabbit or squirrel—for a hearty breakfast. For lunch, Bess cooked big meals on her wood stove. After lunch, she would place a tablecloth over the leftovers for supper. Virginia recalls a water reservoir in the kitchen where they washed dishes. Running water was another commodity the Boohers


lacked. Virginia recalls her father set up a farm tower with a barrel on top, filled with water; a windmill was connected to it. If the wind blew, they would have water from the tower, but if not, they were ready to manually pump water.


Carl Booher of Luther was one of the pioneers who came together to establish Central Electric Cooperative based in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of Central Electric Cooperative


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