Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2 November 1909: You Won't Feel the Electricity

On this day in 1909, the Athens Banner ran a new series of ads by the Athens Electric Railway Company touting their products for the home--this week, the electric heating pad.

The Athens Electric Railway Company was the Athens trolley company. In October, 1896, they moved their generator to their new hydroelectric station at Mitchell Bridge Road. Not only did this improve the reliability of their trolleys, but the company could now offer electricity to local businesses and residences. In1910 they became the Athens Railway & Electric Company, emphasizing they powered not only the city's public transit system, but also the Athenian streets, homes and businesses, as well as offering a variety of electricity-powered household appliances and features for sale to individual consumers.

Ads depicting the elegance of entertaining with a chafing dish (plugged into the electric light socket hanging above your modern dining table) called it "without peer as a promoter of good fellowship and appetite." Their tagline in 1910 included the snappy, "Electricity Is All Right!" in connection with ads aimed at local shop owners, promising that a warm, electrically-lit show window would "coax bashful dollars from tightwad pockets."

The first portable electric vacuum cleaner was patented in 1908 by James Spangler, who sold his design to his cousin's husband, William Hoover. In this 1913 ad, also from the first week of November in the Athens Banner, Athens Railway & Electric Company urged housewives to "Do It Electrically!" and offered a free 10-day trial of the new time-saving machine.

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