The LIGHT BULB that changed the world!
Our first adventure was to Thomas Edison National Historical Park (NHP) in Edison New Jersey where Edison had a complex of eleven buildings. He worked on everything from the light bulb, sound recordings, motion pictures, chemistry, metal works, the printing press, telegraph machines, and more. Hell, even a waffle maker. This man invented hundreds of things and helped others bring their inventions to fruition. It’s mind blowing. Definitely somewhere to go explore and take the kids. (See pictures below.)
Before I went to this NHP, I only ever thought of Thomas Edison as having invented the light bulb. No biggie, right? Yet when you stop and look at all the connections to that one invention, you see that it led not only to the enhancement of the industrial era but his inventions continue today as the foundation of the electronics we use and take for granted. Just consider the fact that because Mr. Edison invented sound recordings, we now have I-Pods, CD’s, cassettes (yea ok that’s old school for some) but imagine how far we’ve come with other recording devices. Or that movies have progressed from quick flipped pictures you cranked to see (like a flip book) with no sound to actual talking pictures—and they’re in color. Hell, I remember when I was a kid all the televisions were black and white. It wasn’t until I was older, like 7-8 when they had color television. Before then, we had screens you put on the television. One with blue on the top for the sky. Another with green on the bottom of the clear screen for grass. Only thing is you had to repeatedly take them off or the people would have blue heads or green bodies. Sometimes I wonder if the person who invented the Smurfs got the idea because he had those colored screens on his black and white television.
If you entered the largest building on his complex, you’d see he had a library full of over 10,000 books in all manner of topics, yes, even books on religion and spirituality. He even had a small cot where he’d take naps during the day or rest if he was working late. The library spans three floors and has this amazing clock mantel that takes up one whole wall.
Across from the library is his machine shop where various metalwork projects took place. On the upper levels he had his recording studio where he recorded hundreds of voices singing or playing instruments and he discovered that not everyone’s voice or instruments recorded well.
A cute little tidbit connected to the telegraph was that he used to call his two sons Dot and Dash after the telegraph machine.
Remember the old Victrola’s? You had to crank them up so the record would spin and the needle would pick up the sound that was then amplified by the big horn and you could hear the music or the person talking. You had to stay close because the sound only carried so far, but it was amazing. By the way, Victrola was the name of the company who sold these devices which were actually called a phonograph which Edison invented in 1877. This was expanded upon and improved by Alexander Graham Bell.
Just imagine…from one invention…Thomas Edison changed the world and how we relate to it. Not just in his time but throughout the rest of our lifetime and that of our great grandchildren. And though, yes, they’ll probably invent different products in the future; none of that would be possible without this foundation.
I also went to his home just down the road from his workshops. I was able to explore the gardens and the grounds where Edison and his second wife and children lived. What I found startling was that while I stood on the side of the house, looking at its spectacular entryway, there was a really strong smell of cinnamon; as if someone was eating something full of cinnamon (apple pie, cinnamon buns, something). I turned to see who was behind me and where the smell was coming from but the smell dissipated and there were no cinnamon trees around. Also, I was alone on the grounds. No one else around as the park had closed. I felt like a tall ghost had stood behind me merely admiring the house with me. No, the spirit didn’t frighten me. It was just a little startling to have such a strong smell and presence. And it was as if, he liked the fact that I admired the house.
This trip was very inspirational. It makes me wonder what I can leave behind. If any of my work, my books, my play, something I hopefully invent in the future will have a lasting impact on others or the world at large. What legacy will I leave behind? What legacy will you leave? Talk about someone’s life motivating you to make a difference.
Live with passion,
Dr. Charley Ferrer
Breast Cancer Advocate
Cancer Tamer Foundation
Note: The garden house was across the street from the regular home and housed the staff. The middle picture shows where there is a hole at the bottom of the building so the chickens can come in and out as they pleased. The trellises were part of the “garden house” where they grew the flowers used in the home. And though, the Edison home and grounds are part of the National Historical Park (NHP), there are beautiful houses–or should I say, mansions–around it that aren’t and are lived in.