Ever since I’ve known myself, I have always been drawn to flashlights…I don’t know if it is a family gene that made me obsessed with them, as there are some family members of mine who also like flashlights (though not to the degree that I do.) Or could it be that I was shown a flashlight at a very young age <1 year old, thought it was cool and became obsessed with them that way? Maybe it is a combination of the two.
I was given my very own flashlight for Christmas of 1988, Playskool 2C Lantern, at the age of one going on two. I had it until I was five going on six and it was replaced with a new flashlight, an Eveready 2D Halogen for Christmas of 1992.
Then at the age of seven, I was given another flashlight, an Eveready IN-215, as a reward for doing well on a television interview and had it until the bulb burned out.
At the age of nine is when the obsession started, though it didn't get really bad until ages eleven and twelve. I, however, kept the obsession a secret because I was already harassed a lot in school and thought that if my peers knew of my flashlight obsession, it would be more for them to harass me about. I would sometimes keep a flashlight in my pants pocket at school and, yes, if other students saw it in my pocket, they would indeed harass me. Another time, in October of 1998 I was looking for the school librarian and the lights were off in the library, so I turned on my flashlight, a Garrity Mini Rugged Lite, to navigate the room. I was harshly mocked by a fellow classmate for doing so. By only the Grace of God did he not tattle on me for having the flashlight. Students and teachers at this school were unusually hateful. Also in October of 1998, I got my first Maglite, which ran on 4 D batteries. I had it until sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2003. I remember one time in May of 1999, there was a power outage during while the teacher was teaching ratio, proportion, and percent, and I had an Eveready penlight that I ever so discreetly lit up my work with. What shocked me is that it didn't get confiscated.
Around age thirteen or fourteen, I got away from flashlights and focused more on video games and later communications equipment.
Then at the age of sixteen (2003), a new main library was erected in the Parish adjacent to mine. I was a frequent patron at that library since I also attended high school in that Parish. For those of you who don't know, a Parish is to Louisiana what a County or Borough is to the rest of the USA. Anyway, I saw a display of flashlights both vintage and current on display at that library. This was a catalyst in reigniting my interest in flashlights since I realized that there might be others who are obsessed with flashlights as well as me. It was that combined with I was starting to give fewer and fewer damns about what people thought of me and realized if someone was going to harass me because I like flashlights, then I don't need them in my life anyway.
At this time, Energizer had some awesome flashlights on the market that I wish the said company would have never discontinued. I did buy my first LED flashlight, which I still have, an Energizer Super Charge.
Gradually my obsession with flashlights was returning to me.
At age seventeen, when I got my first ear infection, I briefly began carrying a flashlight in my pocket again, but for whatever reason, didn't continue with it. I don't know if this was because it simply was a cheap Lumilite Industrial 2 AA flashlight I got at Wal Mart or if there were other reasons. I wish I would have continued carrying it.
In the summer of 2004, I had nothing better to do, so I would look at various flashlight websites for hours on end.
Later, in November of 2004, when I was seventeen going on eighteen, I purchased a cheap Ozark Trail six volt lantern and kept it in my EDC bag.
Then at the age of eighteen, I had developed an interest in knives. However on one Sunday, May 1, 2005, I was browsing around at a Wal Mart located way Down the Bayou from me and I had seen some Garrity Metal LED flashlights. They appeared to be "tactical" or "police style" and sold for less than $15, so I gathered as much cash as I could, then purchased one on May 5, 2005, and had carried a flashlight on my person, almost constantly ever since. The surprising part in all of this is that the people who found out that I carried a flashlight thought it was cool and some of them also bought flashlights. Of course, Operation Iraqi Freedom was at its peak and tactical gear was beginning to become quite popular with the general public. Maybe peoples’ opinions on flashlights changed because of this.
I remember receiving kudos from administrators, teachers, and students when there was a power failure at school and I had my trusty flashlight on me.
One teacher, God rest his soul, referred to me as “Eric the Helpful.”
An administrator told me how I must have been in the Boy Scouts as a child, which believe it or not, I never was.
Another teacher, God rest her soul too, was even pleased with me helping out because the power outage, though I was initially paranoid that she would confiscate my flashlight.
Later that month, I purchased a Garrity Bi-Pin Xenon flashlight, which was quite similar to a Mini Maglite. Garrity was making some cool flashlights during that time period, much cooler than what they make nowadays (2017.)
From 2006 to 2009 I was obsessed with both flashlights and knives/multi-tools.
Then sometime in 2010, my interest shifted more towards just flashlights, though I still buy knives and multi-tools every now and then.
In 2011, my train/railroad interest had gotten stronger but was still obsessed with flashlights. In fact, in 2011 I joined the online flashlight community Candle Power Forums, where I could fellowship with other flashlight lovers.
From 2012 onward, I began to be recognized by my peers as having extensive knowledge on flashlights. Many consult with me when they have any questions pertaining to flashlights. They also encourage me in this interest and always seem to be sending me pictures of them. I greatly appreciate this and I want to say it sure is awesome to be remembered. However, no one seems to harass me about my flashlight obsession anymore. I guess because those that did indeed harass no longer interact with me at all.