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EP255: Our Home Became Tidier After Having Four Sons, Burrito Restaurant Offers Job To Burglar and The Wizard of Menlo Park

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 8, 2022 3:05 am

EP255: Our Home Became Tidier After Having Four Sons, Burrito Restaurant Offers Job To Burglar and The Wizard of Menlo Park

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 8, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Alexandra Frost shares her secret to being a mother of four young, active boys, yet her home is cleaner than it was before she had kids. After Diablos Southwest Grill was broken into owner Carl Wallace made a Facebook post with a job offer for the perpetrator. To Carl’s surprise, the post quickly went viral, bringing international attention to their store. Kathleen Carlucci and Russ Gehrum of the Thomas Edison Center at Edison, NJ, tell the story of how Edison perfected light. 

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Time Codes:

00:00 - Our Home Became Tidier After Having Four Sons

10:00 - Burrito Restaurant Offers Job To Burglar

35:00 - The Wizard of Menlo Park

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Light. Comfy. Good to go to. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, including yours.

Send them to They're some of our favorites. We're about to hear from Alexandra Frost.

Alexandra is here to share how she and her husband figured out how to keep a spotless home with four sons with what they call the 10 things rule. I know you're curious. I am. And I have one daughter.

Let's take a listen. We have four sons. They are seven, five, three, and we have a three month old. And people always ask us if we are, quote, trying for a girl.

And I'm like, well, clearly data has shown that's not in the cards, but we're not sure if we're done having kids or are going to have more. But we're having a lot of fun with having our four sons. Their ages are kind of fun because they're close together. So they're really good friends and they enjoy hanging out with each other.

And they also wrestle and, you know, act crazy at times. But there's always some action going on. Right at the beginning of our marriage, we had our first son and it was very chaotic. We had a lot of baby toys around. We had a dog and a cat at the time.

There were pet toys around. So there was just crap all over the floor, basically all the time. It was chaos in the beginning, but we knew we kind of wanted to live that way and have a lot of kids and a lot of commotion, a lot of fun together. After the third one, we lived in a smaller starter home and we had three people's worth of stuff, plus my husband's and my stuff everywhere.

And it just felt very cluttered. My husband will admit he's got a touch of OCD for sure. You know, messes like that, toy messes didn't ever really bother me. I'm like, oh, we have a lot of kids. They like to play.

They're having fun, enjoying their childhood. But they would definitely get under his skin and he would feel kind of stressed in his home environment, which, you know, nobody wants to feel that way. So we had to get a little smarter with organizing. We tried different things like I would walk around at night and pick things up for everybody or my husband and I would do that.

And, you know, it was a lot for any one person to take care of all these people's things. That didn't work out too well because, you know, we're all tired. It was 10 p.m. We didn't want to clean the whole house right then.

And it also wasn't really teaching the kids any sort of responsibility. We'd also tried some of that minimalizing, getting rid of stuff, which is helpful, but it wasn't still wasn't really solving the problem of just getting stuff off the floor and where they should be. Also, we were noticing we come home from something and feel like we were walking back into chaos as opposed to like coming home and having our house be this safe haven where it was calm and relaxing. So we'd get home from something that was stressful because we had three or four kids at the time and we wouldn't be able to just kind of relax. So it was a little overwhelming.

We didn't really have the system for that many people in our house set up yet. And we were just kind of confused on how to proceed. So the 10 things rule came about because I was noticing at transitions between things that it was a natural time for us to kind of do a quick pickup instead of us leaving everything until the evening like we had before. So we'd be about to leave for a soccer game and there was this kind of like five minutes where my older kids were just like running around, not really helping do anything because I was getting the baby ready to go or we were packing lawn chairs or whatever it was. And so I noticed they could be kind of doing something at that point to help. So we started the 10 things rule. Actually, I don't think it started with 10. It might have been like five when they were real little and I was just like, hey, pick up five things on this playroom floor, thinking, having a little bit more help instead of doing a whole house clean all the time. And also like five to 10 things was helpful for the real little kids.

Like my two year old can pick up five things in like 30 seconds. It did not work right away. They thought it was stupid. They did not want to try.

They wanted to just run around like little banshees and not and not help. That's kids. I mean, they definitely cheat the rules sometimes. Like one of my kids will slow play it.

And while the other kids are picking up 10 things, he's done like two and he's played with a few toys in the meantime and is kind of just rolling around on the floor looking busy. So there's definitely some more competitive personalities and lazy personalities amongst them. But it was pretty normal for them to banter and see who was the fastest. And then after a while, I feel like it became part of their normal process and we just kept pushing it. And it helped that it was multiple transition through the day. So it wasn't just something we are trying once a week.

It would be before every meal, before we left. And after a while, they just kind of started doing it without me pushing them to do it. Or they would start racing each other and thought it was funny or they'd yell at one of their other siblings that wasn't helping because they only picked up two things.

So quickly we realized three kids who can help. That's 30 items. And you think you don't have 30 items on the floor, but if you have six people, you definitely do.

Like even if it's just a pillow that fell off the sofa or something like that. They started to do it other places, so they would be like visiting their grandma or they'd be at the neighbor's house. And I started seeing some of their neighbor friends do it at our house.

They're friends that come over for play dates. Like they all know the 10 things rule too. So the kids weren't very surprised that at the end we asked them to clean up and they all do 10 things. So it was helpful because we weren't leaving play dates at our house or other places with a total disaster zone. You don't know you're agitated because there's stuff everywhere until you actually fix it.

And then you're like, wow, I feel so much lighter. We have so much less stuff. It's not all on the floor. It's crazy. I'm actually like looking at their player right now and there's there's one stuffed animal minion on the ground.

But other than that, there's literally nothing on the ground, which is pretty impressive for how it used to be, at least. If that's something that people have that feeling like they're drowning in clutter or they can't just move around freely in their house because they're going to trip over like a toy dinosaur, you know, which is reality for a lot of people. I think that that rule could work for them. I also really like that it teaches the kids responsibility for their own stuff and taking care of putting them back is helping them just to appreciate their stuff more and also to be more independent kids and know that there's not someone around like picking up after them all the time. So I like that aspect, too. I feel like there's kind of a lesson in that. It started helping me be more aware, too, of it's not just the kids. Like I leave stuff places. So it helped me to kind of watch myself, too, to be an example. And a special thanks to Madison for the production on that piece and to Alexandra Frost. Go to and hear more fun stories and ideas about keeping sanity in your home by getting and having an organized home. And for many of us who are OCD types, count me as one. It just makes you happier to see some kind of cleanliness in order.

Imagine trying to do that with four boys. Kudos to Alexandra and her husband. Alexandra Frost story here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation.

A monthly gift of seventeen dollars and seventy six cents is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American stories dot com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming. That's our American stories dot com. And we continue with our American stories. And now we have one of the co-owners of Diablos Southwest Grill here to share his story. Diablos was started by Carl Wallace and brothers Brandon and Brad Wall in Augusta, Georgia.

Here he is sharing his story of how this business got started and how they operate. Luckily for me, you know, through life, all of my success has come from challenges and what seems sometimes like really bad days actually set us up for the best days. My wife had lost her job with Verizon when they had bought out another company and I had never cooked a day in my life. So when she went back to work, instead of working business hours, she started working retail hours. And then that led me to having to cook for myself because she wouldn't get home to nine or 10 o'clock at night. And then I realized I had a passion for cooking. And so actually Diablos was was born out of loss of a job for her. And then I wanted to create a chain, not just do someone else's dreams.

I wanted to create my own dream. So we created Diablos and grew from one store in Augusta to we're fixing to open up our 15th store in about two months. So the day before Easter Sunday, three thirty four o'clock in the morning, we had a break in. The individual smashed our front glass, gained entry into the restaurant and then went to the register, immediately grabbed the register, shook it around, snatched all the cords and wires. It made an absolute mess of all the register and the change door. Shook it around, realized there was no money in there, threw it to the ground, looked around the restaurant for about 10 more seconds, realized there was no safe. The safe was hidden and actually ran right back out of the restaurant as fast as he could get out.

And the whole process was less than one minute. We were awakened by the security company calling us and letting us know. And so we get to the restaurant.

My business partner, Brandon, got there first, you know, so then he let me know as a social media guy for Diablos. You know, I had to come up with a post because my initial reaction was like, man, we're going to have to put up a piece of plywood over this broken door just to get the restaurant open and operating. And it was also a challenge to get open by 11 o'clock with getting the register reset back up, replaced. You know, it was just a big frustration. And then again, it was how do I let the customers know that, you know, if their first visit to Diablos and they've got a plywood door, I mean, this looks really bad for a business.

I came up with a kind of a thing of if you see our on Facebook, if you see our door looking hurricane fabulous, this is why. And for some reason, just because of the Easter weekend and just really thinking about the robber and like in that moment and what had happened to in his life that he literally broke in at three thirty in the morning into a restaurant. I'm not a morning person.

I don't want to be anywhere at three thirty in the morning. Here he is, three thirty in the morning, breaking into restaurants, risking his life. If the restaurant owner had been there, if the police would have showed up and it would have gone bad in the altercation.

So many things. And the guy didn't make one penny as I'm typing the Facebook message, you know, to let people know. I just kind of shifted and was like, you know what? What would Jesus do in this moment?

What would what would be his response to how this went down? As I kept writing and typing it up, the Facebook post, my heart just was the guide. And I decided that, you know, look, maybe we can be a mentor for this guy. I know it's a radical thought. I know it's a radical change. And then kind of realized, too.

Wow, this is crazy that trying to be a little bit more helpful for somebody that's doing wrong in life is a radical change in direction. I had no clue that it was going to go viral. I was not trying to go viral with it. A lot of people online thought it was a trap.

And there was a company that did this as a trap. But my heart was in the right place. And if this guy was trying to put food on the on the table and he can't find a job for whatever reason, I wanted to be there for that guy. I wanted to be the change in his life. And again, maybe a little bit from from the past of my life where, you know, some of my best days came out of my worst days.

If this was the reason that the guy had a different career path and we could mentor him, I wanted to be there for that person. The post ended up going viral pretty quickly on a local level. And then the two local stations reached out and did news stories that Saturday. And both reporters said this is going to go really, really viral.

And I laughed and didn't think so. And then the next morning, Easter Sunday, I got a phone call from the UK National News and someone had made a meme on Reddit. The meme had got upvoted on Reddit and then picked up by the news station. And that was a national wire for the UK. And then by the afternoon, CNN had called the Today Show had called and we just were fielding phone calls from all over the world, Australia. And even was picked up on the Saudi Arabian news.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't have a happy ending. We were tipped off to who the individual was from a friend of that individual who saw it on the national news knew that this guy, this was his deal. He's been doing this for a long time in life. And we believe that he was picked up in South Georgia for the same crimes about a month ago.

We don't know that for certain, but all the parameters fit. He was this individual was in Augusta that weekend that it happened. But looks like he will be serving time in South Georgia for the same offense because he was caught. But there was so much attention brought to the story on a national level. And we had so many people reach out. My cell number is in the Facebook post.

It's very, very simple to reach me. So I had people reach out from all over the place and just stories of, you know, letting us know how we inspired them to do better in their own life. And I guess at the end of the day, if it made a change in someone's life, then everything was worth it. Three or four days after the incident, I had a phone call around five o'clock. And luckily, my family was actually around with me, got a phone call and the individual was in tears, lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, and said that he had spent a lot of his life in jail incarcerated for crimes. And he was really broken up in speech as he was trying to talk. And he said, I just want to let you know that if the guy that I robbed would have had your response, I would have spent the last 15 years free versus the last 15 years incarcerated. And he said, by the time I woke up in life and realized that I was being a bad human, I had a lot of dues left to pay to society.

He said, you know, nobody does what you're doing. It really touched me. That was that was probably one of my most touching phone calls from everybody that had reached out. He said every time that they would throw me in the jail, I'd come back out with more anger to do more wrong. And he said, if somebody would have showed me some compassion, it would have stopped. It could have stopped my cycle of what I've done in life. You know, he said, if you're ever in Milledgeville, Georgia, here's where I work, come by and see me. I want to hug you and shake your hand and tell you what a great person you are. That meant that meant everything to me. You know, you're really making a difference and making a change in someone's life. And I've always tried to live a life of respect and understanding. One of the things that I tell my employees, we never know what's going on in someone's life.

We don't know if they're just having their worst day. Our job as a restaurant owner is to serve you and to be there and be a small part of your day. But what we don't know is what's going on in someone else's life across that line. You know, you could have gotten fired from your job and you walked out, grabbed your stuff and walked out of your job. And it was the best job you ever had.

And three minutes later, you're inside my restaurant. You know, and the best thing we can do is be there with a smile and just try to make your experience great. But on the other side, that person just had his worst day ever. He's going to be a little upset.

He's going to be edgy. And sometimes they project that against us. And what I tell my staff is they're not projecting it to you about you. It's what's going on in their life to put them in that situation at that moment. We've had some cases, customer complaint resolution found out that the woman was visiting a hospital, which is across the street from one of my stores, was visiting the hospital and her mother was passing away. And she was literally spending the last moments of her life with her mother. And of course, she's going to be edgy with the staff. And so her situation and what happened had nothing to do with my staff.

It had more to do with where her mind was and in my own personal life. I try to be mindful of what everybody's going through in life and not everybody's having a great day. And you've been listening to Carl Wallace tell one heck of a story about how kindness and mercy, they work in ways you don't even know and in ways that are indirect and mysterious and beautiful. When we come back, more of Carl Wallace, who run Diablo Southwest Grill, a chain of restaurants, a part of his American dream here on Our American Stories.

And we continue with Our American Stories. We've been listening to the co-owner of Diablo Southwest Grill in Georgia share the story of when a man broke into their store to steal money. Instead of wanting to find the perpetrator to press charges against them, owner Carl Wallace decided to take a different approach. He made a post on Facebook offering the man a resume and a conversation. To Carl's great surprise, the post went viral.

Let's go back to Carl. And again, I just kept coming back to I can't believe that this is viral, that a strange approach to someone who's done you wrong is is guarding so much attention across America and really across the world. It was a simple act.

And I guess anybody that gets robbed is going to have the initial reaction of, you know, anger, frustration. Or, you know, if I caught you in the act, I would have killed you. They didn't harm my family. I wasn't threatened. None of my employees were at risk.

Nobody was at risk. And they didn't steal any money. I think I'd have been a little more frustrated if some money was taken. But it wasn't.

I mean, absolutely. Other than a couple hundred dollars for a broken glass door that was completely replaced. The crazy flip side of it is, is the outpouring of support from the community. Our sales have been up probably 10 percent in our local market since that happened.

We gained so many new customers that it's been unbelievable that how many people came in the first couple of days. I was doing an interview and a local radio personality, Cher Best, came by and she just came by to pay it forward. And we want to just she walked up to the register and paid for a person's meal just because she's like, I want to pay it forward. And she walked in and just paid for a family's meal that she didn't even know. She's like, you inspired me to pay it forward. And she came by the restaurant to bless somebody else. Just little incidences like that that happened so many times over the next couple of days. There was just absolutely unbelievable that, you know, how the community reached out and supported us back.

And we've we've been paid for that door 100 times over. You just don't think that a small act of kindness is going to reach that much attention. You know, some of the comments online were had one lady say, I wish I could marry Carl. And I thought it was hilarious. My wife didn't find it quite as funny. But she said, well, you come with more problems than you come with. She needs to she gets the problems and the good as well. You know, none of us are perfect people.

I was more amused than my wife was amused about it. But yeah, it's like that one little instance of kindness. And this person thinks that everybody thinks that you're a perfect person and nobody's a perfect person.

You just you try to live life the best you can and do the best for people. And so many text messages from people all over the world. Again, my cell number was on the Facebook post that went viral all over the world. So it didn't take but half a second to type my number in and shoot a text over and and just tell me what your thoughts were on what I did. And, you know, of course, I got a few that said I was crazy, but that's OK.

I'm I'm fine with that. You know, that's my decision to do what I want. And we're all have the right to lead our life the way we think is right. We're all going to be judged. But if you're going to judge me bad for doing right, then that's a problem for you, not a problem for me. I got a few texts of you're what's wrong in this country.

People should be locked up and people should be should pay for their crimes. And then I was always happy to respond back and say, well, if we don't break that cycle for somebody and we keep doing this, who have we fixed? Who have we helped in life?

I don't know how we've changed into a society that decides to judge others for what they feel is correct. I went viral for my kids, a kicker, 14. I made a field goal and we've got a lot of land. And so I put it in the front yard, made a tick tock about it and said, the best thing you can do as a parent is to support is support your child, even if it means putting a field goal in the front yard. And that went kind of viral on TikTok, which then ESPN picked it up. And so then ESPN posted to their Instagram and it says, you know, father builds field goal for his kid, blah, blah, blah. And so he had five hundred twenty five thousand likes, but in five thousand something comments.

And the crazy thing is four thousand of the comments were negative. You know, that's an unfair advantage. You know, why would somebody do that? Why would some, you know, like my kid doesn't have that opportunity.

And then, you know, some were, you know, a little tongue in cheek. Imagine having a field goal and a dad, you know, kind of thing. Yeah.

And so, you know, I was right on top of it when it when it landed on ESPN's Instagram and I'm reading the first 30 comments and I'm just floored that I'm getting I'm getting negative. You know, like, watch what happens. He's going to, you know, dad spent all that money and the kids going to quit. And I'm like, my my kids playing been playing sports since four years old. Like, that's all my kid cares about.

That's that's my that's my kids passion. He's not going to quit. They're like all this money and he's not going to go anywhere.

I'm like, well, he's currently the fifth ranked kicker in the country right now. So like, I don't you know, I don't understand the hate. But the sad part of it was is that that's where we're at in society, that you try to do something great for your child and give him and help him chase his dreams. And that little bit of money that I spent to put a field goal up has really helped his success. But I never realized that that would contribute to hate because you're trying to just do what's right for your child and support your child.

And we're now in a part of society that is that is looked down upon, you know, because somebody else doesn't have the opportunity that it's not right for you to have that opportunity. One of my favorite things as an employer is to be able to mentor some of my employees when they when they ask for help and ask for business advice. And I enjoy being there for them. That's one of my I love my paycheck. But I love being able to help employees on their whatever their career path may be in life and whatever advice that I'm able to help them with. And I've been very successful in life and I've been very fortunate.

I've worked very hard for it on two other companies along with Diablo's. And one of the things I instill in my own kid who's 14 is that you don't have to be the smartest kid. But if you're the hardest working kid, you'll probably survive in life. You'll probably do very, very well. I've had over the years some teachers, you know, want me to come back and do, you know, mentoring in class and, you know, give my testimony, so to speak, to the kids. And I'm like, my testimony is not that great. It's a I didn't do well in school.

I was 051 remedial, just about everything. But I applied myself in life and I worked hard and always had a vision and a dream. And if you have a vision and a dream and you're working towards those visions and dreams, you're generally going to make it. And a lot of kids sometimes just don't have a dream. You know, they just they're going through life. I was fortunate to always have a dream of what I wanted to achieve.

And same thing with Diablo's. I wanted to create a regional chain of restaurants and be anywhere from 50 stores to 100 stores. And my banker said and looked at me and he said, that's just about an unachievable task out of Augusta, Georgia. And we did it. And we started franchising and we've we've been very blessed.

But nobody supports us like our local community does. And so we're we're happy to give back. During the COVID, we ended up feeding some homeless people and just doing what we could in the community.

We fed some kids that were no longer getting school meals. And so we did what we could to support our community back. And a special thanks to a few members of our team, Madison, Robbie and Faith for the great work on that story.

And how often do you hear stories about businessmen in the movies, in the mainstream media that sound like that? The good guys, a real good guy. And we love bringing you stories and voices like this from all over the country. You've been listening to Carl Wallace. I love what he said when he said some of my best days came from my worst days. Indeed, that's how the cooking started and then having that vision. I love that he confessed that he wasn't a very good student.

Who cares? So many kids struggle through high school, college, but they have passions and talents that go beyond. We love telling these stories. We love getting these stories from you.

Send them to They're some of our favorites, these stories. If you have a story in your town, an entrepreneur who's done something like this or a random act of kindness, which is all he did. It was a random act of kindness.

And look at the response. The story of Carl Wallace here on Our American Story. This is Our American Stories, and we love to tell stories about just about everything, but particularly innovation and invention.

And no country in history has done it like we have. Up next, the story of light, and in particular, how Thomas Edison got to the point of his first public display of light. Here to help tell the story is our own Monty Montgomery and the folks at the Thomas Edison Center, not far from where I grew up.

Take it away, Monty. Thomas Edison's story began in the Midwest, where, astoundingly, he only had 12 weeks of formal education. Here's Kathleen Carlucci and Russ Garum of the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park with more. His mother basically taught him and he had a love of reading and he didn't. I mean, of course, science is his favorite subject, but he had a huge interest in literature and just learning about everything.

You know, this is the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. And so he was seeing so many new things popping up and he was really encouraged by his parents. I mean, listen, he made a lot of mistakes. He burns down the family barn, creating chemical experiments.

I don't know where that curiosity came from, but it was almost like a hunger that he had to feed. At the age of 21, he would create his first patent for a vote recording machine and no one wanted to buy it. It worked, but they didn't want to have quick voting. He was told by the legislature that they didn't want a machine to make voting go quicker.

They needed to filibuster and discuss issues and try to win the other side onto their side. So it was a commercial failure at that time. Edison had put all of his resources into this invention. He had quit his job because he wanted to just be an inventor.

And so one of his friends offered him a job with the Golden Stock Indicator Company, a division of Western Union in New York City. So by the time Edison got the funds together to take a steamship from Boston to New York, the job, the position were no longer open. But very shortly thereafter, Edison would save the day and a broken stock ticker would be repaired by him. And the president of the company, William Orton, said hire him. William Orton took a special interest in Thomas Edison. He really saw something in him and really developed a strong belief that this gentleman, this young man, could really do things and go places. So he had an idea that, you know, Edison, how about if you work for me, creating improvements on my telegraph systems or my stock ticker systems?

And I'll supply you with the money, the men, the space. And Edison thought that was a great idea because it's always been his dream. And so he would partner with his good friend that had invited him to come to New York, Franklin Pope. And together they would create what we know today as the universal stock ticker. And Edison would be offered quite a bit of money for that patent, he and Pope.

And Edison decided to venture out on his own. And that's basically how he came to New Jersey. Where he would found one of his major bases of operation, Menlo Park.

Menlo Park was actually a failed housing development. He'll be his most prolific at Menlo Park, creating over 400 original patents with a team of workers. And he would dub this site the Invention Factory.

And so Menlo Park would be known as the birthplace of R&D and Edison would become known as the wizard of Menlo Park. What he creates here is a team approach to research. He is a very gifted chemist, but he can't do everything, so he hires chemists. He hires engineers, blacksmiths, physicists, and they work together. Edison would say, this is what I want to do. They would meet as a team in the laboratory and then they would break out to the respective buildings of what they had to do.

They would come back together. They didn't just think of ideas. They created ideas, put them into motion, and then improved on them. So more or less, Edison has the original innovation campus, the likes of which you see at Google today. And one of their biggest tasks was working with incandescent light, which was in its infancy and dominated by the arc lighting meta. Arc lighting was so bright. It was put in, I had read that it was put in the Louvre in Paris and the artists were appalled because it washed the color away from their paintings. And they weren't as nice as they should have been.

They weren't what they are in daylight. And Edison sees that and it's like, you know, silly to say, but it's like a light bulb goes off in his head. He says, I think I can figure out what the problem is with this in three days. Well, he comes back to his laboratory and of course it doesn't take him three days or three months.

It takes him, you know, between like 18 and 21 months to work on it. Edison would test over 6,000 different filaments until finding the best working one. And on January 27, 1880, Edison would patent his light bulb, which fundamentally changed things for the world. You know, you got to think about when he grew up, you had candles and kerosene lanterns and life basically shut down when the sun went down.

And he opens up this whole world for people. It wasn't as polluting. Don't forget the big cities where there was a lot of industry and things. There was a lot of smog and this was caused by the boilers and the coal burning steam engines. But Edison saw past that and he saw that electric trains would be the future. He just saw that electricity could improve everyone's lot. It was also pleasing to look at. It's like candle power and that's actually how they measured its glow at that time. It was measured in candle power, just like people measure cars and horsepower still today.

And it was really quite beautiful. You know, we tell, you know, a lot of our visitors here, think about a candle. Like if you turn all the electric lighting off and you have a candle burning on your table, it lights the vicinity like a round circle. You can't see under the table very well with that. You can't see behind furniture with that. Yet if you have one light bulb in a room and you turn it on, it's like the light is everywhere.

It's a beautiful glow. But before Edison patented it in 1880, he needed investors to make sure it was commercially viable. So Edison would have to put it on display for the world to see, and on December 31st, 1879, he would do just that at Menlo Park. Well, he needed investors. You know, he wanted to light like a square mile of Manhattan, you know, right around the Wall Street area so he could get investors to build this system, the Edison Electric Company. He wanted to show that this was the future. He put out invitations through the newspapers, sent out letters, and people came here from all over the world for even a few years after the first demonstration. His backers, financial backers, they didn't actually want him to do that demonstration on New Year's Eve, 1879, because sometimes it wasn't working, you know, all the time, and they didn't want to show something and then it didn't work.

I mean, that's always an inventor, their worst nightmare. But Edison had faith in his system, and he didn't just light, you know, like one building. He lit many buildings and an entire street, Christie Street, and it really captures the imagination.

It was beautiful. It was like Edison turned night into day. And it created such a fever of people wanting to see it that the Pennsylvania Railroad had to add on extra runs so people could drive by or come and see Menlo Park lit. It was such an anomaly, and it was spectacular. The daylight is something we often don't think much about.

It's just there, and today it might seem strange to us that for two years people would take a train out to Menlo Park just to see the lights. But you have to remember, Edison truly lived in an age of invention, and the change that happened in his life was astounding to everybody. One of my docents, actually Russ here, has mentioned many times that when Edison was a young boy in Port urine, Michigan, he was watching the Conestoga wagons moving out to open up the West. And then later on, he'll be very good friends with the Wright brothers. He sees man fly. I mean, the breath of innovation and invention during that time period is unbelievable. And great work as always by Monty Montgomery, and a special thanks to Kathleen Carlucci and Russ Garum. The story of Thomas Edison, the story of the first public display of light here on Our American Story.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 10:10:56 / 2023-02-15 10:26:40 / 16

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