Sunday, August 03, 2008

Close the Door, You're Letting the Cold Air Out!

Summertime! Admit it. When you were a kid, you couldn't wait for it. If you were like me, you counted down the days before summer vacation, and dreaded the final days of August when our summer came to a close. Not the official summer of the calendar, but the one that left when the school doors opened again. Then it was time to face the yardstick-wielding nuns again for another nine months and wait once again, for June to roll around.

Back in the 60s and 70s, we were fortunate to have air conditioning to cool the living room, but hardly any of our parents had frigid air in their bedrooms. You could forget about the kids rooms being chilled. On the hottest of nights, my father would let us run the air downstairs to stay cool. He slept on the couch, my brother, sister, and I were relegated to the living room floor. Hey, it was carpeted and we spread our bed sheets across it to prevent rug burn. Even my mom slept on the floor. What did we expect? Dad had his chair that no one could sit in when he was home, why would we think we'd sleep on the sofa in his presence?

If the night wasn't too hot, surely Dad wasn't going to spend good money running the AC through all hours. We'd have to do with an old steel fan with openings in the guard large enough to put your hand through. Fans like that would be banned as safety hazards today. The one my brother and I had in our room was dark green, and looked like it was a relic from some military barracks.

Kids don't know how good they have it. I hardly ever hear kids say that it's too hot anymore. Maybe that's because I hardly ever see kids on the streets during the hot weather. Hey, come summer, we were all out from morning until our parents made us come in. We made the most of every minute. It was OUR summer. Even the older folks stayed out late and sat in their beach chairs and talked all night. I remember my parents used to sit with a number of the neighbors across the street and order pizza from DeFabio's (used to be at 12th & Snyder) about twice a week and just sit and talk. Man, that socialization is disappearing from South Philly. No one spends that quality time anymore, or maybe I'm missing it somewhere. If you remember your mom or dad yelling, "Close the door, you're letting the cold air out!", you know what I mean. They used to worry that the "parlor" (another word that seems to have fallen from the lexicon) would get too hot if you kept the front door open for longer than five or six seconds. Now, hey, we all have air, and no one thinks at all about it. Long live the dog days of summer!

...your parents telling you that it used to be so safe, they could sleep on the step at night, or at least leave the door unlocked. I don't know, I think I'd rather sleep on the living room floor than on the concrete.

...when the weatherMAN used to tell you it was hot, and gave you the temperature and humidity. No "heat index", at least none that I remember. And no weatherbabes, just guys in suits who looked like you and me. Not that I've got something for guys in suits mind you (surely my wife will vouch for me), but as the characters on Saturday Night Live used to say years ago, "That's the way it was, and we liked it!" The weatherman told you about the weather, not leered at you, looking like some today who seem close to lunging into your living room.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of the summer, what can you recall about Riverview Beach and the ferry ride there?

Brian said...

I think that this may be somewhat before my time. My formative years were in the 60s and 70s, maybe a number of years after the beach and ferry closed. You've got my interest, which years are you looking back to when referring to Riverview Beach?