Monday, July 02, 2012

It Can't Get Much Hotter ~ Column from Sunday

I tried to sit on the screen porch to write this column but that lasted about as long as a teenage crush. 

It was hotter than a cup of McDonalds coffee, and I was afraid I’d sweat so hard that I’d short out the keyboard on my laptop. So in I went. 

I bought Jilda an iPad last year and she has a weather app on it. She programs in all our favorite vacation spots and each day when it’s hot enough to smelt iron ore on the front walk, she flips through the various places.

It’s 68 and breezy in San Francisco. In Telluride, it’s 75 with a low in the upper 40’s tonight. In Galway, Ireland it’s 60 degrees with rain.

I have to admit that with the forecast here in Alabama over the next few weeks calling for temps only slightly less than the actual surface of the sun, walking in the rain in Galway sounds really appealing.

I think we were better off before air conditioning. We never had air conditioning when I was growing up and the heat never seemed to phase me.

During the summer when the sun was high, we played outside from daylight until dark. By the time the school bells began to ring in the fall, I was as brown as a brogan.

It would never have occurred to me to waste a single precious second of my summer indoors, without threats from my mom. 

“If you don’t come in right now and get ready for bed, I’ll whip you with a rose bush.” 

Even after Jilda and I married, we lived in a 12’ X 65’ house trailer without air conditioning. On hot summer days, we spent a lot of time in the shade of our mimosa trees drinking ice tea and eating watermelon. We had a BBQ grill and we cooked a lot of meals outside to keep from heating the house up even more.

At night we had a huge steel-bladed box fan in our bedroom window. The window in there was low and the fan pulled a cool breeze from even the warmest summer nights.

Hurricane Fredrick hit Mobile in 1979 and when my boss at MaBell asked for volunteers to head south to work the following spring and summer, I jumped at the chance.

We secured the trailer, I loaded Jilda and Duke, our old German Shepherd, into our pickup and we headed to Mobile. We lived in a Howard Johnson Hotel on Government Boulevard until September.

We worked hard during the day, but Jilda was the designated cook and each day she’d plan dinner for the 12 guys (and women) in our work crew. 

Everybody threw money in the pot and each day while we worked, she’d go grocery shopping. We had seafood feast, steak, chili, pot roast and anything we could think of. Even though it was brutally hot that summer, we all gained weight.

When we came home in September and went through the trailer, all the candles had melted into puddles. 

The plastic shower curtain somehow sealed together into a clump that resembled a science experiment that had gone terribly wrong.

We managed to save a little money from all the overtime that summer, which allowed us to put a down payment on the house where we now live. 

Of course it has central air conditioning, so the days of spending time under mimosa trees and sipping sweet tea are just fond memories.

Are we better off today? I sometimes wonder.


  1. I like the way your tied the entire tale together with the extreme heat and the hard work you both did in younger years. Its like a very short story with the surprise ending - down payment on your home. The shower curtain transformed by the heat and the melted candles made such great mind pictures.

    I guess you guessed I enjoyed reading your post today.

  2. Awwww love the memories how you and Jilda got your home!! How lovely!!! Take care

  3. Great blog, love how small things can take us back to "the good old days"

  4. My grandmother used to tell me stories of when she was a child running around in Mesa, AZ in the early 1900s. Different kind of heat than what you have, but it's still HOT in Mesa during the summer. But somehow, she never even mentioned that - just how much fun they'd have cooking outdoors, or playing with cousins. Once she mentioned sleeping on the roof of their house when it was particularly hot. I think we just adapt - especially when we don't know there is more comfort out there. I'll bet those old memories are really sweet though. It's never the comforts and conveniences that make life really good.

  5. Please don't tell me how nice it is in San Francisco. My baby lives there and I don't like to feel so jealous that I want to smack her on the butt the next time I see her.

    She might hit back and she's bigger than me.


  6. It's been beastly hot here too. I also remember hot summers in Chicago but they too were spent outdoors. No TV ever played in the daytime (except for the Cubs or White Sox baseball!) Thanks for sharing your memories!


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