West: Thank goodness for air conditioners

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This week's blast of 90-degree heat triggered a few memories of "the good ole days."

In short, it got me wondering about just what was so great about enduring those hot days.

Zip…nada, not a durn thing was/is great about those days. Not even the memories are all that hot.

Everybody, for the most part, was miserable. My grandmother West was an exception. For example, we (me and my brothers and cousins) would be out under a shade tree endlessly cranking on the ice cream maker.
With sweat pouring down our faces, we would crank that machine a time or two then ask in our most pitiful voices "Is it ready yet?" Nope. It never, ever was ready.

It always took one of the adult men to take over and crank that cream, while us kids just sat there and whined. Of course, we soon learned not to whine too much. Pouting was a slightly better approach. Otherwise, you got stuck cranking that miserable ice cream machine until it was frozen.

Finally, it was done.

We had to wait "patiently" until it was served in nice, little ice cream dishes.

That little bowl of wonderful, homemade ice cream lasted mere seconds.

Immediately, we got back in line.

But the highlight of those hot Sunday afternoons was when "Ma" West got her bowl of ice cream.
Just like the rest of us, Ma gobbled that ice cream down. But it instantly went to her head.

She always got an ice cream headache, which is more commonly known as "brain freeze."

Ever experience that feeling? Well believe me, "brain freeze" is a fact. You can look it up on Google.

Well anyway, immediately after getting her ice cream headache, Ma would always head in the house to grab a sweater and would assume her seat on the wooden swing that was a backyard fixture.

And everyone would roar with laughter … except us boys who were trying to get our next bowl of cream.
Now at our other grandparents, Pa and Granny Vanhooser, water melon was the usual Sunday afternoon treat. (And chocolate pie)

Those round, dark green melons were grown by my grandfather. Back in the days before freezers, those melons were cooled by lowering them down in the well. 

Delicious, sweet, ripe, perfect watermelons.

They were best when eaten outside usually under the big maple tree next to the cellar.

They were even better when you could stand up and eat straight from the slice, holding it away from your body. Otherwise, you would end up covered in the sticky juice. (Which was nothing a squirt from the hose pipe couldn't cure.)

Today's modern, seedless melons just aren't as good.

Those old-fashioned melons had taste and texture and seeds, which you better not get caught spitting.

No matter how slick you were, you would always get busted spitting those seeds. Not that anyone was patrolling for them, but when you spit one or two at a younger brother, his hissy fit would always get you caught.

Hmmm, maybe those hot, good ol' days weren't so bad?

Until you remember what it was like to travel by car in those days.

It was so hot and so miserable. You would soak through your clothes and the sweat would make you stick to the car seat. It was horrible.

It wasn't so bad if you could ride in the front seat. Those vent windows were life-savers, as long as the car was moving.

Of course, being a kid, I was always relegated to the back seat where we were instructed to keep those windows rolled up. Rolling the back windows down, messed up the air flow, we were told.

Then, FINALLY, we got a Pontiac with air conditioning. It was built-in, Frigidaire air conditioning. I was ruined for life.

We could travel long distances without breaking a sweat. We even went to Florida. 

Heck fire. Air conditioning opened a new world for folks like me.

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Mike West
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