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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Before and After A/C

Did you know this? In 1945 a man named Robert Sherman of Lynn, MA, invented the portable, in-window air conditioner that cooled and heated, humidified and dehumidified, and filtered the air (Patent # 2,433,960 granted January 6, 1948). It was subsequently stolen by a large manufacturer. Sherman did not have the resources to fight the big corporation in court—they promised to "break him" if he tried - and thus never received any money or recognition. He died in 1962.” 

I came across this bit of information as the result of spending two hours, (not by choice,) in an upstairs un-air conditioned room this afternoon where the temperature was about 90 degrees F. My writing pad goes with me on occasions when I know I’ll be waiting without something to do, so I wrote another blog to kill time in captivity suffering the heat, but when I read about Mr. Sherman my heart went out to him and I decided my complaint was minuscule compared to what that man endured. That made me hot under the collar and if the article had mentioned the name of the “big corporation” I’d gladly boycott it!

I remember that as a child I was blissfully too occupied with other things than to pay much attention to temperature, even in those hot sticky summer days and the deep dip temps of winter in our Minnesota country home. In my teens and older I joined the popular habit of noticing extremes in temperature and complaining about them. 

When I married in 1945 (the year poor Mr. Sherman invented his in-window air conditioner,) Wally was a captain in the Marines and one of our first homes was a Quonset hut on the air base in the Mojave desert. We kept deliciously cool, in what might have been unbearable heat, by a water cooler in the window. That was a far more simple apparatus than the window air conditioner but it worked almost as well in that dry climate.

The first house we actually owned was in a brand new development in North Carolina near the Cherry Point Marine Air Base. It was a prefabricated three bedroom bungalow with white siding and blue shutters. (As cute as all the others that looked exactly like it.) It had not only my first dishwasher but an air conditioner! With an FHA loan we moved in with nothing down and payments of $64.00 a month. The cost? $10,000. We sold it 2 years later for $11,500., a tidy little sum at the time.

(I apologize to my readers for rambling. Can’t help it, even though one of my writing teachers said, “Stick to your thesis and don’t stray from it with your favorite side tidbits. You’ve got to murder those little darlings!”)

Let’s see,..the thesis is air conditioning past and present in the life of Yours Truly. 
In about 1955 we got a flat tire in Death Valley on one of our moves across country. I think  the temperature was about 118 degrees!  The next car we bought just had to have an air conditioner. 

I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy air conditioning everywhere I’ve lived since about 1950 except in the house on our ranch in Oregon. When it was too hot in our upstairs bedroom at night we’d make up cots to put beside the huge redwood tree in our front yard. Even air conditioning couldn’t beat the beauty of a night under the Milky Way!

Now, in my present condo, I stay fairly cool without the A/C, but when I need it, it’s there and, incidentally, I’m glad to be home now enjoying it! In my old age am I not allowed to be spoiled? 

1 comment:

  1. Where were you at 90 degrees not by choice!! You can tell me off line. :-)