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Song Of The Air Conditioner
32nd in the Tuesday Story Series
The last few mornings it has been cool enough to have the windows open first thing because the evening temperatures have been down into the low 60's. My studio is on the third floor of our home, actually, it's the only room at that level, so I don't really know if it qualifies as a whole floor! It has one window and I love to be able to open it because I can create art with birdsong and breezes as my accompaniment. On the ground below, the air conditioning units sit directly beneath my window, so when the units start singing, that's my cue to shut the window for the day.
This morning as it started "singing", I reflected on how different life has been for many because of the invention of a way to cool air. Actually, that idea has been around since at least Roman times, when certain wealthy individuals would have water from an aqueduct circulating through the walls of their homes to cool them. The big difference with modern day air conditioning is that it takes the humidity out of the air and in my part of the country, that is a huge difference!
Growing up in the 50's and 60's, we had no air conditioning in our house, nor in most of the houses of people I knew. At night in the hot and humid air of summer, we used box fans in the windows to give us relief and to be able to sleep. Attic fans were in many homes, which, when turned on, would pull air through the house and create some comfort in the stifling heat. They were often loud and noisy as well! When I was in high school, many stores would attract customers by installing A/C and then putting a sign on their doors much like this one:
Automobiles didn't come equipped with air conditioning until the late 50's and it was not until 1968 that all cars produced in the US had A/C as an option. People sat on their porches in the south because in the early evening it was usually cooler outside than inside.
As this marvel became more and more common in construction and industry, the entire United States showed a population shift from the 1950's through today. Las Vegas was nothing more than a crossroads and a few buildings, Florida had no sports teams and a dwindling population. Census records show that since the 1970's the American South and West made huge population increases and large gains in economic growth.
I don't know if my grandparents would consider us "soft" now, but it has been proven that it's actually healthier for an older person to be in out of the heat with air conditioned, cooler air. My parents did not have A/C installed in their home until they were in their late 60's. Until then, staying overnight at my parent's home when we came to visit was not something we looked forward to in the summer! My father's health was failing and they began to see that it may be a good thing after all. All of their children and their children's families were very grateful and it made for a more pleasant visit with small children in tow.
So I lift a toast to Willis Carrier, who invented the air conditioner in 1902, in Buffalo New York of all places! I am doubly grateful for the blessing of air conditioning since I have had this chronic illness the past three years. So, while I prefer to hear birdsong while doing art, in the summer I am grateful for the song of the air conditioner!