People often ask, “Do you remember your first ____________?” Just fill in the blank and you have a good conversation starter. Television is one of those things. Having a grandfather who was in the television business, I don’t remember not having a television, but I do remember coat hangers, tin foil and running outside to adjust the antenna.
It seems a lot of things have gone full circle these days. Tired of my cable bill, I now run up into the attic to adjust the antenna if a station is not coming in clearly. It used to be that you got the nifty fuzzy pictures, but with the way broadcasts work now – you either get the picture or you don’t.
For a long time, our only air conditioner was one that was mounted in the kitchen window. I remember our first unit going out from time to time and thinking it couldn’t get any hotter. I also remember our first “new” window unit, it was quite an event. We would sit in the kitchen and talk about how cool it was.
I still get to test my manhood every once in a while at work. It seems our air conditioner goes out every year for a few days in August and the heat goes out at least once a year in the winter. It makes for great adventure with folks who are in the business of inventing new things and solving problems. We station fans in the windows and the hallways and sometimes even manage to find some ice to put in front of the fans for a cooler breeze.
If I had to, I suppose I could do without air conditioning, but it’s one of those things that I sure would hate to do without. I do have good memories of standing in the kitchen in front of that window unit and letting the air conditioner hit me in the face.
These days, kids and adults have too many toys to appreciate the thrill of a good window unit. Other thrills included things like being conned into thinking that sitting on the ice cream freezer and cranking the handle was “fun.” I don’t miss turning the crank on the ice cream freezer, but it did serve me better than a love affair with a cellphone.
As far as air conditioners go, these two fellows named Schultz and Sherman invented an individual room air conditioner back in the 1930’s. When they first came out, the large units cost between $10,000 and $50,000. In today’s economy, that would be almost a million dollars. I guess I wouldn’t own one and I would be fine.
In the 1940s and 50s, the folks in the air conditioning industry convinced businesses that cool workers were more productive workers, thus selling more and more. If you live in Florida or Texas or other places that stay hot for most of the year, you need an air conditioner. They are still expensive to keep running due to the power bill, maintenance and repair.
What I can say is this, I miss the feeling of being outside digging tunnels in the dirt to hide my plastic Army men in, getting filthy dirty, sweating like a pig that just ran a marathon and then easing into the kitchen and standing in front of that window unit with my mouth wide open. That, and knowing Mama wouldn’t get mad at me. We would sit or stand there in front of the air conditioner discussing things that little boys and their mothers discuss.
Things that you can’t find on the internet or on a cellphone. And then, my brother would tell me how much fun it was to crank the ice cream… You know it wasn’t that bad… I still have no desire to sit on the freezer and turn the crank, but homemade ice cream still cranks my tractor.
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