Of Ice Storms and the Electric Company

by Eric Pinder

We were watching The Electric Company when the power went out.

Ice storm.An icy evergreen branch the size of a sofa came crashing down in the neighbors’ yard during the New England ice storm of December 2008. The world was encased in glass. Very scenic, but very cold. I went out to take some pictures and found a power line lying in a big puddle at the end of the block. Cars were driving over it, which didn’t seem like the brightest idea. One driver stopped and asked if the line was “live.” Who knew? I suggested he find another route. He replied, “I can’t, all the other streets are blocked by fallen trees.”

“Well,” I said, “A car did just drive over it without exploding, but—” The car gunned forward. It didn’t explode either.

With no electricity in Nashua, the restaurant business was booming. We went out for Indian food that night, and then for breakfast the next morning, and all the tables were full with lines out the door. Waitstaff said business had doubled overnight. The drive-through line at Dunkin Donuts was ridiculous, since no one’s coffee machine was working at home. Everyone wanted someplace to go to get warm. Apparently one surefire way to stimulate the economy is to have an ice storm. You’ve heard of bull markets and bear markets. This was a brrr market.

Around 5 p.m., as we watched The Electric Company on DVD with a four-year-old, the TV crackled and the whole house went dark. I had the good luck to be standing right next to a flashlight, which made it easier to find the candles without tripping over too much.

If you were born between 1968 and 1972, you probably remember The Electric CompanyRemember “Hey you guys!” or “Stronger than silent e, able to leap capital T in the single bound…it’s Letterman!” or Tom Lehrer singing, “Who can turn a can into a cane? Who can turn a van into a vane?” (the silent e song). And of course, “Please do not disturb this very large person.” If you don’t remember these things, I regret to inform you that you had a deprived childhood.

Ice storm.I’d completely forgotten that a very young Morgan Freeman was on the show. I recognized his voice before I recognized his face. It must have been one of his first jobs. Each scene was hilarious and familiar after all these years. I kept thinking, “Hey, I remember that! And that! Wasn’t that from Sesame Street?”

Somehow I’d always thought The Electric Company was one of those iconic shows like Sesame Street which everyone grew up with. But apparently it was only on the air briefly. Many people, even friends only a few years younger or older, have never heard of it.

The focus of the show is teaching kids how to read, so those of you with kids in or approaching the 3-6 age range, get thee to a Netflix queue and share The Electric Company with your kids or nieces or nephews. You and they will be very entertained.

Just wait for the power to come back on first.

Ice storm.

Freezing rain occurs when a warm air layer aloft slides up over a cold layer of air close to the ground. Falling raindrops freeze on impact to form a thick, glassy glaze ice. Ice storms look beautifuluntil the lights go out.

Ice storm.

Children who like weather and the outdoors will enjoy the picture book Cat in the Clouds, about a cat who lives on Mount Washington.