Pat Maloney describes the perils of reading meters for Seattle City Light in the 1950s

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 10/18/2001
  • Essay 3614

In September 1953, Meter Reader Pat Maloney described one of his experiences recording Seattle City Light customers' electricity useage.

Directions for finding and reading PS meter 105415

Go to waterfront via driveway just south of Mobil gas station whose location is the intersection of Rainier and Seward Park Avenues.

Here, just south of the old ferry Lincoln is houseboat. A pleasant young woman will give you permission to go through her house to the back porch of the houseboat. From here the object is to board the old ferry. This is accomplished in the following manner:

1. Walk to end of 12-inch plank extending from porch out over water, to within reaching distance of a one-half inch cable whose bight hangs down from side of ferry. (Known capacity of plank, 190 pounds [mine]).

2. Grasp loop of cable and place a steady strain on it. After a time, this effort will move ferry within reach (if south wind is not blowing).

3. Using cable for support, climb onto narrow narrow ledge running along outside of ferry. Walk carefully to west end of ferry, across end and continue on ledge around north side of ferry for distance of 30 feet.

4. At this point, six feet out from the ferry, and ten feet high, secured to a piling, is pole box 414, PS meter 105415.

5. To read meter, take firm grasp on safety cable and lean as far as possible out over water.

6. To return to shore, be sure to take strain on southwest mooring line of ferry and hold it until ferry swings far enough south to enable you to step onto end of plank.

Note: There is no load on this meter. A workman here told me that the man who is billed for it is now in Oregon, and the boat it had served has gone to Alaska.


Pat Maloney, "Perils of Meter Reading," Seattle City Light News, September 1953, p. 2.

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