Sometimes, a picture can instill such a strange awareness within us that it is hard to get the picture out of our heads. It doesn’t have to be something horrible, bloody, or shocking, but simply something unusual. The phone tower in Stockholm, Sweden, built in 1887 is that kind of a picture, for sure.
Technology has changed so much over the years, and this tower was a relic of the past. That is probably why the image has stuck in my head all this time. The tower served its purpose at the time, connecting 5,000 telephone wires and providing service to all those people, but to me it seemed rather dangerous in many ways. The telephone was an amazing invention, but somehow, the idea of buried cable never occurred to the inventor or the engineers who made it a reality for everyone. The service was very expensive, and so only for the wealthy…a fact that would change in years to come.
Similar towers sprang up around the world, and most residents soon grew to hate the massive amounts of lines that littered their skyline. Still, it was the only way at the time, and the telephone was, after all, an important invention. Too bad they couldn’t immediately come up with the wireless version we all enjoy these days. The telephone towers were used shortly before telephone companies started burying their wires in about 1913.
The change was well received, since most residents hated it, and some of the work was done after a snowstorm downed telephone poles, causing the cities to pay for the changes. Soon the hated phone lines began to disappear. I can see why the towers are hated, and to this day, most photographers hate to have the towers and wires in their photographs. I have often found myself wishing the wires were missing from that perfect shot I got as my husband and I walked along the walking paths in Casper, so I can understand the way the residents of Stockholm, New York, and Boston felt about the monstrosity that was the telephone lines in their cities. Thankfully for the residents, the problem was solved when the tower burned down on July 25, 1953.
In October of 2013, Wyoming and some of the surrounding states were hit by an early snowstorm that broke many branches from the trees, because the leaves had not had a chance to fall off of them. Casper looked like a war zone for weeks and weeks. It was such a devastating loss for the town, and it saddened many people. Trees that had been here for a long time, were virtually destroyed. It remains to be seen how well these trees will come back in the spring, and of course, some are gone completely and families will have to plant new ones in their place. Cars and roofs were damaged from falling branches too, and had to be repaired.
As I was looking through my old family pictures, I came across a couple of pictures of a Minnesota Ice Storm that caused much of the same damage, but to trees that had no leaves. It is hard for me to imagine a storm that can bend and break leafless trees, but I suppose that if it is so cold that ice forms faster than the water can run off of the branch, it is possible. Indeed, it was more than possible in Minnesota that winter about 1935, it happened, and my dad and his brother, Bill and sister, Ruth can attest to that. I think my Uncle Bill felt the loss more deeply than the younger kids, because he was older, and he loved being out in the wooded areas near their home.
These days, you can go to the local greenhouse or landscaping store, and buy trees to replace the ones that were destroyed, but back then it wasn’t so easy. You might be able to transplant a small tree from somewhere else on the property…if those survived, but in this storm, that was unlikely too. The thing I find quite strange is that it doesn’t appear that there was much snow really, but rather that on the ground, it soaked in, but on the trees, it just froze…likely because the air was colder than the ground. It’s sad anytime that trees are destroyed by the weather. It doesn’t matter if it’s fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, insects, ice, or snow, the destruction is the same, and the loss of the beautiful trees we love leaves us sad, but I guess that is the way nature works sometimes…on its own timetable.