Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Daylight Savings Extended

Just heard on the news about Daylight Savings being extended for four weeks starting in '07. Dad just told me a Daylight Savings story this weekend. The timeframe makes him a grown man living on his own and when my grandparents had their egg business.

He said he went out to see his mom one afternoon thinking he might get a meal while he was there. He waited around and waited around and was getting really hungry. He checked the clock and made a discovery. "Mom, ya'll haven't changed your clocks!" She assured him that the chickens had not either so they left their clocks just like they were. He said he left without getting supper. Was getting late for him I guess.

My grandfather (Big Daddy, as we called him) had many different careers -- farmer, cotton gin operator, school teacher, grass cutting business, etc. But the one I remember was the egg business. From what I can recall, they had about three hen houses with around a couple hundred hens in each.

In the summer, I loved going to the egg house. It was a little house for processing the eggs. It had a screened area on one side with a cooler on the other. A walk-in cooler! Although I don't remember the grandkids being allowed in the cooler, the ambient cold seeped through the conrete floor and made it a mighty fine place to be on a hot summer day before air conditioning was common.

Since there is a gap between the trailer and the porch, Dad's new doorbell was getting wet when it rained. So he built an acrylic doorbell house for it. At 87, the heat is really, really hard on him. I am so grateful he has airconditioning to be in during the hot part of the day!

For your quick "Information Please" lesson on AC -- ever wonder why those horrible old movies from the 1910s and 1920s had such a following? The "movie palaces" of that time were the first public spaces to be air conditioned. Home cooling didn't become common until after World War II. I was born in 1954 and remember the stores advertising they had air conditioning to entice customers.

Our first home airconditioner puts me at about nine or ten. And of course, the old timey grandparents were some of the last holdouts. It's hard to conceive life without air conditioning in the south, but we did it. Compensations were made. Houses were built with big eaves to shade from the sun, positioned to take advantage of the prevailing breeze, big tall ceilings to give the heat somewhere to go. Cars were made with windows that rolled all the way down so you had plenty of wind. Forget aerodynamics of a streamlined car, we weren't going that fast anyway and gas cost pennies a gallon. Then of course there were those aides such as a sweat rag (wet washcloth) that you could toss stylishly around your neck.

Air conditioning really spoils us but it is necessary to maintain the world it created. Computers wouldn't work without it. Lots of medicines we have now wouldn't be able to be made or last. Chocolate candy as you know it wouldn't exist! And it made the south a much more habital place which in turn brought an influx of population from the north. For good and bad, it changed the personality of the south.


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