Jim made the mistake of doing something unwise involving electricity which scared his Mom, and he and Bob were grounded, well I guess you can call it being grounded. They were not grounded in that they couldn’t go anywhere, they just simply couldn’t plug anything in anymore to the electrical sockets.
You have to understand that Jim’s Mom was a single Mom. His Dad had left Ohio with his future wife. They went to VA when Jim was only 5 years old. Jim didn’t know what to think about that. He went from having a Dad he adored to not knowing whether he had done something to drive his Dad away. Of course, as time went on, children move on. And his Mom was a wonderful person to be the Mom to the two boys that were so close; Bob and Jim. But she also had to work. When they were all too young to be left alone, there was a woman who came to the house. When his sister, Anne was old enough, she was in charge while Mom was working. We’ll talk more about Bob in a posting called Brother Bob later. I remember a line from the movie, Trading Places, by Billy Ray played by Eddie Murphy when the Dukes brothers asked him if he came from a broken home, and he answered, ‘Yeah, it was broke. So what?’ I think that was a standing joke once he saw that movie for the first time. Of course, we had a million quotes from that movie that we bantered on about, as well as other movies.
Anyway, Jim then figured out how to still get his electricity needs fix without actually having to plug anything into the wall sockets. Batteries.
So, that old saying works for kids too. Necessity is a Mother.
Jim started with small batteries and worked his way up. Of course he would need a way to keep all those batteries charged, and a re-purposed train transformer filled the bill which we will talk about later.
Of course, little batteries were only a stepping stone. Eventually, he worked his way up to bigger batteries such as car batteries that he exchanged at the local gas station for older less viable ones. He would put the old battery/batteries in their wagon and head off to the gas station.
He still did that as an adult at auto parts stores for years. The auto parts stores didn’t care what battery they turned in for recycling or whatever they did with them, just that there were ‘x’ number of them. So Jim would bring his meters and talk to the guy in charge at the auto parts store, or when he was a kid, at the gas station, and they would let him rummage through and find the least dead batteries with no dead cells that had a spark of life left. Sure these batteries wouldn’t turn a car engine over any more, but they could still do lots of work. So of course, after he determined which was the best one there that day, he would trade the guy his old ‘truly’ dead one, for the still somewhat functional one that could take a charge and hold it, that had no dead cells. He would take the ‘new’ to him battery home and trickle charge it till it was working well enough for his purposes and over time, it would work better too, but eventually it too would be truly dead and he would do the same thing again.
The batteries gave him the ability to do the things he wanted to do, but not have to plug anything in to the electrical sockets, so his Mom’s word was honored. He once told me that if Mom had realized how powerful those batteries really were, she likely would have taken them away as well. LOL! But these old batteries, and new small C and D batteries, and AA batteries, etc., that he got with the money he earned running the newspaper route(s), mowing grass, and shoveling snow in season, made it all possible. I never knew of children that young doing these types of things. Sure they did stuff like this, but they did it in their teens. Jim started doing these types of things well before he was into his teen years. Of course, it continued into his teens after he could again plug things in, and into adulthood as well. Batteries became a true passion.