By Terry Moseley
All of us have those special Christmas days that we fondly remember. 1970 was my first one because it was the year I received a Revelation 22 Long Rifle semi-automatic rifle. Yes, it was a Revelation brand, purchased at the Western Auto store in Greenville. Today, that design is a Marlin. There are many other Christmas memories for me, but let me share my most unforgettable one thus far.
As I recall the Christmas of 1989, sometimes it seems as if it all happened just yesterday. It was Christmas Eve, and I was the on-call supervisor for Pioneer until 7:00 am on Christmas Day. With a toddler and a newborn son, my wife and I were anticipating a relaxing and fun time with our family. Sometimes, our plans get changed, though.
A polar vortex, with temperatures in the teens, had started earlier in the week, and faucets were purposely dripping water in an attempt to keep pipes from freezing. Around 10:00 pm that night, I was summoned to Pioneer's office for a conference with our management team, the mayor of Greenville, and the city's water operator. There was a major problem! The city was out of water, and any fire could prove to be catastrophic. As you might easily guess, the city needed Pioneer's help (Back then, we managed the Butler County Water Authority's water system). While It was a meeting full of tension, we did remember that it was the Christmas season. The final plan to help the city ended with our pumping water to the City for several hours and then returning to normal pumping to the county customers.
About midnight, I returned home with another plan.... getting some sleep before rising early to ensure that the “switch over” of water pumping happened as we had planned. As I crawled into bed, my wife went to verify that I had locked the kitchen door. Suddenly, there was a loud scream. It was my wife's scream, and as the Christmas poem says, "I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. " There was a Greenville policeman at our door! My plans had changed again.
We invited the policeman in out of the cold, and he explained that our elderly next-door neighbor and fellow church member had been talking on her landline phone to her daughter. The daughter lived out of town and called the police to inform them that her conversation with her mother had abruptly ended, and she had unsuccessfully attempted to reconnect with her mother. After telling the policeman that we had not seen or heard anything unusual, I put on my coat and walked next door to see if we could get a response from our neighbor. Firemen, policemen and I knocked and called out.... hoping to hear her voice. Nothing.
While all of the commotion was going on, my mother-in-law was calling my wife to make sure she and our small children were safe, and asking if I had come home yet. My wife relayed to her mother what was happening, and for those of you who know my mother-in-law, it will not surprise you that she rode over to see if she could help. She did! As the fireman was about to use his ax to pry open the window and go into the neighbor's house, my mother-in-law called the elderly woman's name, and we all stood in a state of shock as she quietly answered that she was barricaded in her bedroom. The neighbor had changed extensions during the phone call to her daughter, forgot to hang the first extension up, and therefore, her daughter kept getting a busy signal. She had heard all of us calling for her to come to her front door, but she was afraid that we were intruders attempting to harm her.
The only intruders that Christmas were policemen, firemen, a neighbor, and a good friend, who was ready to help.
Christmas truly is more than just presents, isn't it? Pioneer helped a city, which had a desperate need, and a friend just did what real friends do that Christmas in 1989. With 80 years of practice, Pioneer stands ready to help our members and neighbors, and it's my hope that you get to help someone this Christmas season. If the opportunity arises, show someone the TRUE meaning of this very special day.
Terry Moseley serves as the executive vice president and general manager of Pioneer Electric Cooperative.