Carrying a torch: This Duncan collector can still keep his lights on with kerosene.

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DUNCAN, OKLAHOMA -- Getting some light into Mike Steuver's living room involves a lot more than just flipping a switch.

"This is a 1936 Model Aladdin," he says while striking his butane lighter.

But that flickering flame, or the bright mantle on one of these old Aladdin models reveals a unique collection in the dimming world of kerosene lamps.

Steuver lights an old railroad lantern and explains, "All you got to do is light it and you're good to go."

Mike's parents used gas lamps, but his grandparents used kerosene.

He originally wanted one like he remembered as a kid.

Then he just kept buying and trading.

"I'll admit I got a little carried away," he chuckles. "I wanted to own one and one led to 500."

From the end of the whale oil era in the 1850's to the advent of rural electrification a century later the age of kerosene lamps burned brightest.

Hundreds of companies and models roared to like and snuffed out.

They made wicks and mantles too, everything you needed to keep a dark house lit before Edison's bulb.

Steuver recalls, "One time we were without power for more than a week. Everybody in town wanted to buy one off me or wanted to know if I had any fuel."

In the winter time especially, Mike tries to burn a lamp or two for the heat.

Reading the daily mail can be depressing in any kind of light.

"They're all bills," he laughs.

Stuever belongs to a few lamp collecting clubs.

They get together once in a while to talk and trade.

"The metal ones are the oldest," he says.

The golden age of the kerosene lamp is over now.

Electric lights are safer and don't require any matches or fuel for the home owner.

His Alladin lamp, he describes, "Is the equivalent of a 60 watt bulb."

But collectors like Mike still keep these lights on just in case anyone might still be interested in that time when these tiny flames were all anyone had to hold back the night.

Steuver and his fellow kerosene enthusiasts are hosting the Chickasha Vintage Lamp Show and Sale October 19th and 20th at the Grady County Fairgrounds in Chickasha.

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