Lights on a Pole

Vintage pole lights

Our living rooms in the 1960’s were comfortable places, indeed. Ours had a homey ambiance that made for a wonderful place to spawn memories. I can clearly recall the paneled walls, the sunken floor furnace, the area rug with rectangular shapes with 1 1/2″ wide borders that were PERFECT for driving your Hot Wheels cars on, and a familiar means of illumination of the era: a three-light floor lamp.

I recall the lamps being in all sorts of homes I visited. Ours had metallic shades that directed the light at whatever you wanted to be lit up. It sat by the easy chair, so dad could point the glaring 60-watt bulb directly at his copy of the Tulsa World.

My grandmother in Mason, Texas had one with glass shades that were bright blue and orange. It was something to see, especially when she would festoon it with tinsel, ornaments, and strings of popcorn each year at Christmas time.

Pole lights in a 60’s living room

There are thousands of snapshots like the one to the right that were taken during the 60’s that featured the ubiquitous form of lighting. They were inexpensive, looked modern (today, they look RETRO-modern), and did a great job of lighting up what needed to be seen. They also got very hot, and one of my earliest learning experiences was that you did NOT aim the light by grasping the shade. No, you grabbed the end with the rotary switch to keep from burning the heck out of yourself.

I’m surprised I don’t cower in fear at the sight of the old floor lamps. The one we had also taught me at the age of five that it’s a really BAD idea to stick your finger in the socket!

The lights served an additional function: they were a nice place to drape shirts and such that weren’t quite dry when it started raining and mom had to hurry outside and remove them from the clothesline.

I’m not sure when the multiple light floor lamp became passe. I don’t recall seeing too many of them in the 70’s. I remember mom got rid of ours when we got new living room lamps at an estate auction. She used those lamps for thirty years until her death.

It seemed like everyone else got rid of theirs, too. Nowadays, they are sought after by folks looking for the retro feel (like my wife and myself). But go back about forty years, and they were seen in millions of middle-class homes all over the world.

Just don’t grab them by the hot metal shade!

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