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“We had to wash our feet in a big tub of water before entering the house,” Virginia says.


In the evenings, her parents were able to access a radio in the car; after some time, Carl and Bess Booher used a wind charger to power a radio. This was their evening entertain- ment as Virginia recalls her parents listening to baseball games and her mother keeping scores of the games. She still has the scoring sheets her mother used. Once darkness set in, Virginia remembers using kerosene lamps to light their home.


“I was the one who had to clean the chimneys, which I was glad to clean with newspapers,” she remembers. “Mom and dad read books out loud to us. Mom did a lot of sewing and needle work in the evenings. We had to go to bed early.”


In the early- to mid-1940s, the Booher farm—along with several other farms and ranches in the area—received elec- tricity for the fi rst time. During an interview with CREC in 1989, Carl Booher shared some of the members’ sense of gratifi cation and won- der when they fi rst received electricity: “They (the members) were so grateful to get electricity. They were also amazed at it, couldn’t understand how it worked. One gentleman com- mented after he had lights that it was the fi rst time he’d ever seen his wife without daylight. It is unbelievable how im- portant the REA and the cooperatives were to the folks in this area, and to the farmers especially.” When electricity fi nally arrived at the Boohers’ farm,


Virginia was already off to college to begin a journey of her own.


New Beginnings (With Electricity!)


Upon graduation from Luther High School, Virginia at- tended Hill’s Business University in Oklahoma City where she developed typing, shorthand, fi ling and bookkeeping skills. Her fi rst full-time offi ce position was working as a secretary for Scannell-Cockran Commission Company Oklahoma City Stockyard, a job she held for a few years before marrying U.S. Navy offi cer Harold Edward McClain in 1944. As newlyweds, the McClains had to be separated for a season as Ed McClain received orders to be shipped overseas to Japan in an oil tanker. In 1946, the McClains had their fi rst child, Richard, followed by Mary Beth in 1950 and John Edward in 1953. At that time, Carl Booher served as a board member both at CREC and at the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC), a trade asso- ciation representing all electric cooperatives in Oklahoma. OAEC, established in 1942, was housed in a small offi ce space at the Department of Agriculture in the State Capitol. With three employees, the OAEC management saw a need to add a fourth staff member to assist with secretarial and administrative duties. When Carl Booher heard of the op- portunity, he made a recommendation for Virginia to be considered. To make the decision even easier, the McClains were residing across the street from the OAEC offi ce. In 1952, Virginia McClain began part-time employment at OAEC; she became a full-time employee in 1953. “I walked in and felt right at home. Everyone was cordial and friendly. My dad used to tell everyone, ‘She is the best daughter I have ever had,’” she recalls with a smile.


1 9 52


Virginia McClain worked as offi ce manager at the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives for 41 years.


1999


Virginia McClain and her husband, Harold Edward McClain, a U.S. Navy offi cer. The McClains were married in 1944.


T O D AY


Virginia McClain with her daughter, Mary Beth Wilson. Virginia also has two sons: Richard and John Edward.


19 50


Carl and Bess Booher, Virginia’s parents.


OCTOBER 2017


17


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