Air conditioning changed me

Published 1:13 pm Thursday, September 8, 2016

By Sue Staton, Winchester Sun Columnist

Hurricane Hermine made me think back to the times in my life that air conditioning was not in my home.

My first thoughts of that began with my growing up years down the lane. My sister’s and my room was located at the side of the house where the evening sun came in and boy did we feel the heat in that room. I remember lying awake many nights and listening to the crickets and frogs in the nearby pond with our window wide open to try and get some much needed coolness in our room. Only  late in the night or early morning could we feel relief from the heat and finally go to sleep. We might awaken to a new mosquito bite, however. Funny thing though, now when I hear a frog croak or a cricket sing, it brings back wonderful memories to me.

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At our house, you were not allowed to sleep late, no matter if you didn’t get much sleep the previous night. When our Mom and Dad got up, it was soon after that their offspring were called to get up and their five children’s feet had better hit the floor. There was no calling the second or third time at my house. We were taught to mind after one time. We did and if we didn’t we knew the outcome.

I remember many days helping Mom can green beans, jam, peaches, tomatoes or whatever vegetables we were lucky enough to get from our garden or from the overflow of someone else’s garden. In fact, corn on the cob never made it to a freezer or canned because it never lasted long enough at our house. We loved my Mom’s fresh fried corn or corn on the cob. Food never went to waste at our house but the canning time was done with sweat dripping down our faces.Were we tougher back then? I truly think so.

I thought of the church homecomings that usually came at the end of the summer revival and all the dedicated members of the Kiddville Baptist Church at the time of my growing up years. Someone, usually whoever arrived there first, would come early enough to begin cooling down the sanctuary, lift the big windows of the church and stick part of a tobacco stick in to hold it up before the church service. This would include the Sunday School room windows. If you were lucky, you were in a Sunday School class where the big maple trees were. Did the fact of not having air conditioning stop us from going to church? Never! Now, if the air conditioning is broken, church is called off.

Remembering the sight of those open windows brought on the giggles as I remembered a wasp coming in to the church while the service was on and everyone swatting it away from one member to the next with their fans until someone finally knocked it to the floor and stepped on it. The fans usually were a gift from Scobee Funeral Home where everyone from that side of the county took their loved ones when they passed away. I also remember once during a storm something caused one of the sticks to fall from the window and the thud of the window falling down scared us all.

It was hard for the pastor to keep his composure and keep on with the service during some of the things that happened in church. I have often thought how funny it would be if a pastor would write about all he had seen while during the service from the pulpit. How many stolen kisses from the teenagers in the crowd and those who fell asleep every Sunday. I think it would be a fun book to read.

Then the delicious homecoming meals served on big wagons out beside the church where everyone was welcome to attend and the ladies of the church did their best to feed everyone. I can still see little Mrs. Alta Cline and her daughter Lodeema with sweat dripping down their faces, waving tea towels to keep the flies away from the food. I love looking back at those pictures today and remembering the fun times we had.

I do not know about all of you, but I have become so accustomed to my air conditioning that I have a hard time even being out in the heat at all after I have gotten older. Where I used to be able to play a game of softball with friends or family for hours on Sunday afternoon, (our only play day) or lie in the sun in 90-degree heat never fazed me either. Now, I truly realize how I am so accustomed to air conditioning. I think the jury is still out on whether it has weakened us as humans or not, but I for one am so thrilled I have it at my house until the electric bill comes in during the summer months.