By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Please don't flush your toilet
Random Thoughts, December 29
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - During the last few months, the Lions Club discovered people are interested in local history. As a fund-raising project the club had the “Muscoda – The First Hundred Years” book reprinted and offered for sale. It quickly sold out and more were ordered. Also, a compilation of John Duffey’s “bits of history” column was printed in book form and they also have been an easy sale.

So perhaps readers and local folks will find it fun to remember – or learn about, the night Muscoda firemen left their hoses and ladders in the firehouse and walked house-to-house with an unusual request – “Please don’t flush your toilet”. It was December 31. 1977.

The reason for the unusual request was a big New Years Eve snowstorm that caused a village-wide electrical failure and without power the pumps that operate the local sewer system would not operate, and that could become a major problem. The community was dark from about 5:00 p.m. until about 12:30 New Years morning.

The lack of electricity may have cooled the downtown New Years Eve celebrations, but it didn’t stop them. Entertainment spots broke out their candles and camping lanterns and in some cases headlights from cars parked at the curb helped to keep the music playing. There was diagonal parking in those days.

Homeowners were concerned about a possible cold night and extra blankets and quilts were brought out of storage. There was one beacon of light in the village – the Riverdale Manor nursing home had a diesel-powered generator.

The cause of the power outage was a 10-inch snowstorm that resulted in a problem at an electrical substation,’’

When the power failed there were several flashes of light in the community. When it first happened Muscoda Power and Light employee Bob Phetteplace said he witnessed a big bang and a huge fireball that lit the eastern sky. He thought perhaps there had been some kind of explosion at a local industry.

In addition to the Wisconsin Avenue business problems there were a number of New Years Eve gatherings going on in private homes. They also were suddenly dark,

The Smith family was at a party where homemade ice cream was going to be the featured food treat of the evening.

A problem was realized when it was discovered the modern-day hostess had only an electric-powered mixer that could not be used to stir the needed ice cream ingredients. But there was history in the making with an old-fashioned answer coming to the rescue.

A trip was made to the Smith house to retrieve an ancient old-fashioned hand-driven mixer. The ice cream was delicious and the party went on.

Now, some adults, then kids, remember that New Years Eve without lights as special – a low-light adventure to tell their grandchildren about, part of the “good old days!”