Ralph Lawrence Hudson may look like your average member, but he's been around for a long time and has many stories to tell. You may have even read his stories in The Stanly News & Press before or had him teach your class for a day if you were in Carla McSwain's History class at South Stanly High School.
Ralph is an Atomic Veteran known for serving in the army in the Korean War Era. In the service, he learned to drive DUKWs, amphibious vehicles operating on land and water. He would use the DUKWs to transport hydrogen bombs for testing to the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific. After the bombs would go off, he would drive the DUKW to the islands and test for radiation. As you can imagine, he has many stories to tell, but one particular untold story goes way back before Ralph was drafted for service — back to the roots of his childhood.
In 1932, Ralph was born in a log cabin without electricity or running water. Growing up, Ralph worked on the family farm, tending to the cows, horses, cotton and garden. He and his brothers would work from sun up 'til sun down. They didn't have a clock, radio, telephone or television. If they wanted to know the time, they would have to go to their neighbors and ask what time it was.
His family home was in a rural community. Ralph recalls times his mother would cook on the wooden stove, traveling in a wagon to Albemarle, taking water outside to let the sun heat it to take a bath, and running jugs of milk to the spring to keep it cold. When you crossed the river, things were different. They had electricity.
Back then, news spread through word of mouth. When Ralph reflected on his teenage years, he remembered hearing people talk about electricity coming to the farm. The next thing he knew, he was helping clear the right-of-way for the utility lines. Then in 1948, Pee Dee Electric provided electricity to the area, lighting homes in the rural community of Stanly County.
"There was excitement pulling a string to turn the light on for the very first time, and it was nice not having to carry a kerosene lamp around each room when it was dark," Mr. Hudson commented.
"There was excitement pulling a string to turn the light on for the very first time, and it was nice not having to carry a kerosene lamp around each room when it was dark."
Electricity has certainly made life easier, and it's hard to imagine what living without power truly means. Ralph now has light switches, a refrigerator, a washer, a dryer, an electric stove and many more electrical appliances. He lives in the area he likes to call the Upper Cottonville, Lower Ansonville (UCLA) area. He has been married to his wife, Ann, for 68 years. Over the years they have enjoyed winning prizes at Pee Dee Electric's Annual Meetings and cooking recipes from Pee Dee Electric's Awareness Committee's Cookbook from 1983.
When Ralph was asked if he could impart any words of wisdom to people today, what would it be? He answered, "Appreciate the little things and what you have now — don't take them for granted."
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