by James K. Sayre
One of the more dubious parts of growing up in a "progressive" family in the 1940s and 1950s was the presence of electric blankets on our childhood and adolescent beds. Mere traditional, warm woolen blankets were not good enough for my parents. No, they had to have the new technology of electric blankets, which consisted some sort of synthetic fabric (polyester?) (rayon?) blankets with closely-laid lengths of wires and along with some lumpy thermostats, every couple of feet,v and a set of controls and electrical cords. Fortunately, we rarely had electrical power failures in Mount Lebanon, PA back in the 1950s, especially late at night. The summer thunderstorms mostly occurred in the late afternoons and early evenings. (This was way before corporate greed and corporate deregulation and "privatization" of public assets and public utilities came along, some thirty to fifty years down the road...).
Now, in the 21st century, wool blankets are back in style, as natural, ecological and whatever... No electricity needed. The age of unlimited electricity championed by the iconic Reddy Kilowatt has come and gone.
The brilliant humorist S. J. Perelman, wrote, To Sleep, Perchance to Steam, an essay on some of the possible perils of the then-new electric blanket. It is found in his book, Crazy Like a Fox, published in 1945.
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