During my childhood, I grew up in the suburbs of Decatur, Georgia. Our humble home on McAfee Road contained two bedrooms and a single bath. My father eventually converted the carport into a family room. The original den became a third bedroom for yours truly.
A few upscale houses in the neighborhood possessed central air conditioning. However, my friends and I never knew to miss it. We did not have AC in our cars or schools. During summer vacation, we actually played outside during the day and most of the evening.
We cooled our house in warmer weather with an attic fan. The belt-driven mechanism rumbled like the propeller on a plane during takeoff. Standing under the vents in the hallway produced a wind tunnel effect. Propped open windows welcomed any cool breeze blowing by.
During my ninth grade year, we moved to Woodstock, Georgia. My parents neglected to include central air conditioning in the new home they built. I attended Cherokee High School where the only air conditioned building (well, other than the front offices where the principal and secretaries ruled supreme) was the library.
Then I went to Berry College for undergraduate work. My freshman dorm room featured radiator heat and paint-stuck windows. The next dorm I occupied had been built decades later with central heat but no air. My roommate and I felt like gypsies in the palace when we finally scrounged a box fan for the one window.
After seminary, the bishop appointed me to two churches outside Newnan, Georgia. A wood stove heated the parsonage IF the preacher cut enough wood. An all too familiar attic fan in the hallway provided the only source for cooling. During my fourth year at the church, my wife and I married. THEN the church installed a dish washer and a single window air conditioning unit.
The next church we served owned a parsonage complete with “central” heat. Well, at least the heat source was located in the center of the house—a gas fed furnace shot torrid blasts of heat from a waffle-pattern floor grate. This particular home didn’t even boast an attic fan.
After three years of committee meetings, the church eventually installed a new heat and air system. At 32 years of age, I finally enjoyed the comforts of central air conditioning for the first time in my life.
Only a few decades ago country congregations vehemently argued whether to install air conditioning. The progressive elements argued that people wanted to enjoy the same degree of comfort at church as they did in homes and malls. The fiscally conservative countered that the money could be better used for missions and funeral home fans.
Seriously, I’m not making this stuff up. Today no one would even consider building a church facility without all the modern amenities.
We live in a prosperous era. What were once luxuries are now considered to be necessities. I am certainly not advocating a return to the past. Years later I still recall how hot, humid, sticky, and muggy those “good old days” of the summer truly were.
However, it wouldn’t hurt to be thankful for our present blessings that past generations never even imagined. Thank God for the hot summer weather outside, AND praise the Lord for the air conditioning inside.
Same with me Bill, I really know of no one in Emmaus, PA that had central air. But then I didn’t people who were wealthy enough to even have a new home. Love your blogs. They keep us focused.
Ahhh, memories of growing up in the south in the summer time….thanks for the reminder to be THANKFUL in all things.
Yes, same for me growing up in a community outside of Houston, TX. A/C is nice but I do have lots of fond memories of our attic fan in that house on Thornwood Dr.
Thanks for reminding us that we have come a far way. We need to continually thank God for His many, many blessings.
Lewis Gizzard wrote in one of his columns that the introduction of AC in the south would be a great reason for people to leave New Jersey and move our way. He also added we needed to have more mosquito control here for our next advancement in the south. If you have AC, you can come inside and not worry about the mosquitos!