Learning my lesson about air conditioning

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Some childhood experiences stick with you.

Two, in particular, are when our family got our first air conditioner and our first TV set.

Both were revolutionary so far as I was concerned and both put us ahead of most of our extended family in Woodbury. My grandparents, the Van Hoosers, had gotten the first TV in our family, but we beat them all with that General Electric air conditioner. It was a window unit and while it didn't cool the entire house it did provide amazing relief during those hot summer days.

Naturally, us youngsters were banned from touching anything on that wonderful cooling machine. All we were allowed to do was stare at the push-button controls while it blew cold air into our faces. Heaven! Nor we were permitted to twist the wheel-like vent which directed the flow of air.

During the summer months, the West boys spent most of the daylight hours outside playing, fussing and fighting. Our yard didn't have much shade and some days it was hot as blazes. After all, it was in a little subdivision with newly-planted trees. Our shady spot was under the carport which was a spot full of accidental mishaps including scraped knees and busted lips. That carport was the perfect fort and served as as occasional battleship (as long as there was no car parked under it.)

But we still did get to "occasionally"cool it under the roar of the window air conditioner.

In 1945 Robert Sherman of Lynn, Mass. invented a portable, in-window air conditioner That invention, developed by others, made air conditioning inexpensive enough to be afforded by the average American family.

Of course, today's experts called the air conditioners of the 1950s just "keeping up with the Joneses." Perhaps, they are right because in 1953 some 1 million of window air conditioners were sold in America.

By the 1970s, window air conditioners began to disappear replaced by HVAC systems that almost every house in the Southeast has cooling it during the hot, hot summer months.

Back in the days of my youth, AC was a luxury. Today it is an absolute necessity which I recently discovered when my air conditioning went on the blink. It was a minor problem _ thank goodness _ and one quickly repaired. The unit was a little low on freon and someone, I won't mention any names, had turned the thermostat too low. Hmmmm!

Guess I didn't learn my lesson about touching anything to do with that all-important AC.

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Mike West column
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