My Forty Years Scribblin's
Interviews
The Coming of Electricity

This interview was written in 1988 and published in Cabin Fever (1989). Andy Anders coupled modern convenience with “old-fashioned” service in the Swan Valley.


Electricity was a new and wonderful thing to the longtime residents of the Seeley-Swan country when the Missoula Electric Cooperative reached the valley in time for Christmas, 1952. Most residents were "hooked up" during 1953. Memories from that time show that things were a little different and perhaps a little unorthodox compared to present-day practices.

Horsh (Andy) Anders was a young German repatriate who was sponsored and guaranteed a job by one of the Electric Coop workers. He was given a course in installation work and sent out on the line as the first meter-reader in the Seeley Lake area. In stead of driving in and out of all the summer home residences' roads, he would borrow a boat and paddle along the shore, putting on his shorts and shoes and a hard hat, duty-bound and visiting as he went. The customers being very appreciative of this new convenience would greet him, "Come in and have a Coke, Andy. It's pretty hot today."

So Andy, a sociable soul, would "come on in" and the host would bring out the Coke and "put something in it."

After a few of these friendly encounters, Andy said, "They got me so drunk—I had to go and lie in the shade and sober up before I could continue."

Also, if there was a failure in the works, Andy would look for it and as he said, "Take my screw driver and fix it. You've got a blown fuse…" or whatever.

In winter, the consumers might say, "Andy, would you mind watching the snow on my roof?"

"Sure, I don't mind," Andy would answer, and would "take off a little snow."

The Company decided that he was taking too much time to read the meters so they sent someone else to do the job for awhile.

"But I wasn't goofing off," he says. "I was just trying to do a good job."

Andy paid a visit to Seeley Lake during the winter of 1988. He became an American citizen and spent twelve years in the United States Navy, went to college and was still taking courses thirty-five years later. Andy said he'll always love Seeley Lake—his first home in the United States—and his first real taste of freedom. Andy went to work for the United States Government and said during a 1988 interview that he hopes to return to the Blackfoot Clearwater when he retires.