Between the lines: Walking down memory lane

Dawson PPD General Manager

Gwen Kautz, Dawson Public Power District General Manager

By Gwen Kautz, Dawson PPD General Manager
gkautz (at)

Who doesn’t like a walk down memory lane? Many of us fondly remember times with our grandparents and their siblings. Dawson PPD was formed in 1937. If you look at the changes we’ve seen in the past 80 years, it’s staggering. Take a walk with me…

In 1937, the world saw itself on the precipice of a major war. The airship Hindenburg burst into flame and the first “talkie” movie with Charlie Chaplin was released.

In 1940, as the WWII raged, we saw an increase in female workers where one out of every four married women had a job. In 1941, a surprise attack on our military base in Hawaii started the war between the U.S. and Japan. WWII ended in May 1945. In 1947, the first black athlete to play major league baseball shocked the sports industry as Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The 1950s saw the emergence of rock and roll and the Korean War began. In 1951, the very first computer was created and used 5,000 vacuum tubes to process a thousand calculations per second. The year 1953 gave us a polio vaccine. The Supreme Court ruled racially segregated schools unconstitutional in 1954, and Elvis Presley released his first hit record. A landmark year for Civil Rights was seen in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. NASA was created in 1958. Barbie arrived on scene in 1959.

The FDA approved the first birth control pill in 1960. John F. Kennedy became the youngest president elected. The Beatles recorded their first record in 1962. The first home video recorder was created in 1963 and Alcatraz prison was closed. Martin Luther King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech. The year 1969 saw the first test flight of a supersonic jetliner and the first successful eye transplant.

In 1970, oil consumption in the U.S. was at an all-time high and our push on OAPEC to prove they needed us resulted in an oil embargo. In 1972, the first video game was created by Atari. In 1973, the first portable cell phone debuted weighing two and a half pounds. The oil embargo ended in 1974 and President Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal. Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak followed by founding Apple in 1976. The year 1977 was a significant year for technology when the first home computer was introduced.

PAC-MAN debuted in 1980. President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981 and Sony’s Walkman, the portable cassette player, was a big hit. Compact disks were invented in 1982. Sally Ride became the first woman in space in 1983. The first graphical user interface for computers was introduced as Windows. The Titanic was found in 1985 having sunk in 1912. Two disasters happened in 1986 – the Challenger and Chernobyl. Two key tragedies occurred in 1989 – Exxon-Valdez oil spill and the massacre at Tiananmen Square.

Pokémon was first seen in 1990. We saw the birth of “the world wide web” in 1991. As compact disks took over, the last cassette tape was recorded in 1992. Privatization of the “internet” happened in 1995. DVDs made their premiere in 1995. Mother Teresa and Princess Diana died in 1997. Google was founded in 1998. President Clinton was impeached in 1999.

On September 11, 2001, two planes toppled the World Trade Center towers. In August 2003, 21 power plants shut down in three minutes affecting over 50,000,000 people. Power plants resumed transmission within two hours but it was more than a day before businesses, hospitals, commuter trains, airports and cellular services could be restored. Sadaam Hussein was overthrown in 2006. The first-generation iPhone was presented in 2007. We experienced the global financial crisis in 2008, and Barack Obama became the first African-American president. Osama Bin Laden was killed in 2011. In 2012, I was selected to be Dawson PPD’s 4th general manager.

Well, that was more like a run through memory lane, wasn’t it? I hope you get my point – things change. The next 80 years should be just as interesting!

If you didn’t have an opportunity to visit Dawson PPD’s history display at the Dawson County Museum, we hope you’ll join us on May 4th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to celebrate our 80th anniversary. There are lots of things planned, including a meal and bucket truck rides.


April 2017

What our customers say

An informed customer is our greatest asset.