To Alabamians of a certain age, a little man made of lightning bolts with a bulb for a nose was a familiar character who taught them about the safety around electric power.
His name was Reddy Kilowatt and he came into existence 90 years ago this month.
Over half a century, the soles of thousands of shoes left their mark on one of the remaining relics of a once booming energy and electric Municipal District of Bighorn community.
Even after all the years of dirt smudged stains and icy snow clumps being dragged over it, and anything else the bottom of a pair of shoes can transport, the smiling face of the Reddy Kilowatt logo, with its light bulb nose and electrical outlet for an ear, greeted Bow Valley visitors for decades – and will continue to do so.
Reddy Kilowatt, an internationally recognized registered trademark to promote electrical appliances since 1926, lay in place on a floor in a staff house for Calgary Power (now TransAlta) in the Seebe settlement from the late 1950s to late 2000s.
I can’t believe I forgot to post this: REDDY KILOWATT & MR. HAPPY CRACK.
Reddy sold opening night but Mr. Happy Crack is still for sale, and $200 is a steal.
Damn! A good man named Mike Lawson has shared not just the existence of a massive, illuminated Reddy sign, but a time-lapse of it being brought back to life.
In his words:
Attached are some pictures of the completed sign. Below is a link to a time lapse presentation of us installing the sign. It is located in the Agricultural and Industrial Museum of York (PA). I hope you enjoy these. Do you know of any other similar Reddy Kilowatt signs? Could this be the largest one still in existence? Thanks for your reply.
Mike Lawson (The guy in the “Reddy” pose in the picture)
That’s many kilowatts of awesome.
Looks like the Smithsonian Institution has 199 boxes of Reddy Kilowatt history. Everything was donated by Xcel Energy in 2005.
Bio / His Notes:
The Reddy Kilowatt trademark was created in 1926 by Ashton B. Collins. Reddy Kilowatt, Inc. licensed the trademark promotion and identification purposes by more than 150 investor-owned electric utilities in the United States and at least 12 foreign countries. The company later changed its name to Reddy Communications, Inc. In 1998 Northern States Power Company bought Reddy Communications and its assets, later changing its name to Xcel Energy.
Scope and Content:
Records documenting the development and use of Reddy’s licensed trademark, the stick figure “Reddy Kilowatt.” The figure was used to promote electrical appliances and other consumer use of electricity, as well as to promote energy conservation during World War II. The records include historical materials about Ashton B. Collins, Reddy’s creator and founder of the company. These include letters, speeches, memoranda, photographs and scrapbooks documenting his early career in the electrical power industry. Also included are company publications, advertisements, presentation materials, reports, company histories, and promotional items including materials directed at children such as comic and coloring books. Audiovisual materials include motion picture films, audiodiscs, audiotapes, and filmstrips. The audiotapes include recorded speeches by persons such as Benjamin Hooks, Barry Commoner, and John W. Gofman.
Meet The Helper, a slightly Reddy-inspired Donald Duck character. Well, maybe you’d already met him but I hadn’t. He’s been around since the 1950s and is “a kind of microbot.”
In Gyro’s First Invention Don Rosa shows that the Helper was constructed in 1952. He is built out of a lamp previous owned by Donald Duck. Some mysterious way the lamp became alive and intelligent when Donald accidentally hit Gyro in his head with it so that Gyro’s head hit his unfinished mindbox. Later Gyro gave the main part of the lamp mechanical legs and arms so that it could be able to cross obstacles. To avoid vibrations while moving it was also equipped with dolls shoes … and finally Donald put on a light-bulb so that it could light up its surroundings.
Pretty neat. Hat tip to Tom R. for pointing him out.
Check out the Gopher State Railway Museum’s train featuring Reddy Kilowatt as the engineer (scroll down after following the link).
Jeff Braun says:
From Just a brief history — the locomotive was built in 1940 by Electromotive Corporation for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. NSP accquired the locomotive in approximately 1973 from the Burlington Northern Railroad, to switch its St Paul, Minnesota coal-fired High Bridge power plant, where it worked unitl 1996. It wore the slightly modified Reddy Killowatt figure from 1973 until it was retired in 1996. Because of its heritage and unique paint job, NSP generously donated the locomotive to the Gopher State Railway Museum (located in New Prague, Minnesota just south of the Twin City Metro area) where it now resides, still prominently featuring Reddy in his hard hat and railroad lantern in hand.
Thanks Jeff and Adam!
Here’s a little article on Examiner.com: An animated spokesman for electricity: Reddy Kilowatt.
Strangely, the URL reddy.com does not go anywhere.