Grandma’s Power Meter

Regular readers of this blog may have figured out by now, I was a pretty inquisitive kid. If something piqued my interest, I explored it to its fullest. As I said in some other post on this site, to ask a question of an adult in my childhood to often resulted in the answer.

“I don’t know!”

Therefore, when I discovered the power meter on my grandparents’ house, I am unsure whether my grandfather told me what it was, or if I learned it on my own. See, the power meter was the coolest of all things attached to a house. It had dials, numbers, and back then a wheel that spun horizontally when electricity was passing through it into the house.

In those days, that basically meant that something was running.

Look at you meter now; it never stops spinning…ever!

When I discovered the power meter on the side of my grandparents’ house, I had to know the whys and wherefores. My grandfather may have told me what it was. But I needed to know what it did.

Since most of my observations of said power meter back then were during the day (I was five), the horizontal wheel rarely turned. But sometimes, as I rushed by while playing tag, or chasing the dog, something was different. The wheel was turning. Oh so slowly, but it was turning.

I would pause, watch for the black mark on the wheel to come back around. Ugh, sometimes it would take forever! I had to find my cousin, please come back around so I can know there is an end to the power meters wheel.

Black mark, back to the game!

The little dials with numbers never seemed to move. But occasionally the wheel did.

I wanted to know why.

On days when it wasn’t moving, I would watch and wait. Wondering if it would move at all. Then it would slowly start to turn. Black mark slowly moving from left to right as it followed the arc of the horizontal wheel. What caused the wheel to spin? Why did it turn so slow?

At some point, I figured it had something to do with lectricity (that is electricity for a 5-year-old). To test my theory, I made sure the wheel in the meter wasn’t moving. An easy task since way back then, it rarely did. Satisfied that the little black mark wasn’t making its slow circuit, I ran into the house and turned on a light.

Feeling that the integrity of the experiment was at risk, I ran back outside and positioned myself in front of the meter. Low and behold it was slowly turning. Really slowly, but it was turning!

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