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Beatin' the heat back in the day

It's hard to believe summer starts just this month.


I could have sworn it was here a month ago.


But according to astrophysicists, the summer solstice arrives Thursday, June 20. That's when the sun reaches its highest point of the Northern Hemisphere.


Does that mean temperatures will begin cooling? ’Fraid not, since the ground and oceans will continue to absorb heat until equilibrium is reached with the temps of the atmosphere.


Got that?


Me neither. All I know is when summer arrives, I break out in a sweat.


When I was a boy, I could stand hot weather better than I can now. I think it had to do with summer meaning school was out and Little League was in.


Summertime also meant swimming at the pool or pond and, when Daddy had vacation time saved up, a trip to the beach.


Now I prefer to vacation in the spring or fall when the weather is more agreeable for this aging body.


When I was growing up, we had really hot weather. I've seen daily heat records that still stand going back to the 1950s.


But it didn't phase us as much. Y'all know what I'm talkin' 'bout — those of you who grew up in the days when a penguin decal on a glass door meant it was cool inside.


I grew up in a house with a cooling system. We called it the refrigerator. It was a GE model with a freezer section that was a metal box with a door and it hung above the top shelf of the fridge.


You remember — if you're old enough to have seen those public service announcements on TV about removing handles from discarded refrigerators so kids wouldn't accidentally lock themselves inside.


That ol' GE had an ice maker that was child proof. It was child proof because it took a strong arm to pull the handle on those ice trays.


But we had a cooling system in the house to cool the air as well. It was a big industrial-sized fan in the window between the kitchen and the enclosed back porch. We kept the windows open just a crack to allow the big fan to pull the air through the otherwise sweltering rooms.


That fan not only sucked air through the house to cause a draft, it also created a roar that blocked out night noises, thus allowing you to sleep at night — even when you were sweating.


If the big fan didn't do the trick, we had a mobile device. It was a small oscillating fan that we'd carry from room to room. 


If you were watching TV with your brothers, the fan better be oscillating so everybody in the room could feel the breeze. “Hey! I’m not feelin' it!”


Our old Studebaker sedan also had a cooling system. It was activated by turning a handle that rolled down the window.


I think that's why all the kids wanted to ride "shotgun," because sitting next to the window increased the blast effect from the airstream.


Guys and girls had to carry a comb when they went somewhere in the car. Otherwise, when they arrived at their destination, their hair would resemble Albert Einstein's mop of atomic chaos.


We may have it better today, what with central air in our homes and air-conditioning in our cars. But can you imagine what cruising downtown Asheboro would have been like with all our windows rolled up?


And when was the last time you spent a summer evening with the family out on the front porch? We used to do that all the time, rocking on the porch swing or relaxing in the metal outdoor chair.


I guess we gave up sitting on the porch after we got the window unit and the color TV.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.