Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Heat is On!

Well, even if it is a couple of weeks before the beginning of Summer on June 21st at 11:38 AM, the first spell of really hot weather is hitting us this week. I know that there have been 100 degree days here in June before but it seems to me that this is awful early. I am so glad that I didn’t promise not to complain about the heat last winter, because I plan on complaining a lot if this keeps up.

While the average maximum daily temperature is going slowly up, what is really changing is the average low temperature; that is going up at a higher rate this decade. So we are not getting the break we used to every night. As a teenager, I remember getting out at dawn for my summer jobs and actually feeling cool in the early morning humidity. When I had my paper route, I could ride my bike to the drop site, fold my papers and deliver the entire route without breaking into a sweat over the 10 mile round trip from home. This morning, when I opened the front door, I was hit by a warm blast of air like it came from a furnace. After the 100 foot trip to the mailbox and back, I had the beginning of a dewy glow. Trust me when I tell you this, it is not because I have a few more years on the odometer than I did in my paper boy days.

Air conditioning was a rarity in our neighborhood back in the day. In fact only one family on our block had one. We did spend some time there but most of the time we were outside or, on the worst days, inside playing in the cool breeze of air being sucked through the open windows by the attic fan. Back in the day, Mom imposed a minimum one hour nap break on us. That was pure torture. I lay there on top of the covers on my bed with the air blowing past me listening to the “snick snick” of the fan belt echoing down the hallway from the attic fan. I realized that each “snick” represented a half second of time. I lay there counting until I realized that 600 “snicks” represented only 5 minutes of time.

When it came to having kids underfoot, summertime was the worst time for Mom. So on Saturdays, she would dole out quarters to us and we would mount our bicycles for the mile ride down to the Lake Shore Theater for the Saturday Matinee. A quarter got us a Coke, a bag of popcorn and admission to the air conditioned theater. We were in heaven; watching Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes, Dale Evans, Trigger and Scout bring justice to the Wild West. There was always a Looney Tunes cartoon and a newsreel before each feature. To this day, I cannot go to a movie without a Coke and popcorn. Although, my Friday night movie costs nearly 100 times what those old Saturday matinees did.

I will never forget one Saturday in 1955 when the projectionist accidently loaded the evening feature instead of the matinee reel. Instead of Hopalong Cassidy, my 10 year old eyes were treated to the vision of Maureen O’Hara riding nude on a horse in Arthur Lubin’s “Lady Godiva of Coventry.” For the next couple of years, we secretly hoped for a similar mistake, but the theater owners, after the fallout from that infamous showing, double checked the matinee reels before each show. This was years before the MPAA ratings system came into being. As shocking as “Lady Godiva” was at the time, it would be a PG-13 movie these days. Heck, I’ve seen worse on television. My, how times have changed.

Maureen O’Hara is still with us at the age of 94, so there must be something healthy about horseback riding in the nude. I really enjoyed her role in McLintock with “The Duke,” and Chill Wills. She didn’t put up with anything that John Wayne sent her way. You GO, Girl!

In a heat related news story, a reporter announced that children were at a higher risk of heat related injuries as an adult because they don’t sweat. “What’s that you say,” I remember sweating a lot as a kid. I did some research on this and found out there has long been a myth that children are more vulnerable to heat than adults. The myth was based on early laboratory studies during the 70s and 80s of youth exercising in the heat. As it turns out, children do sweat less than adults particularly among boys when compared to men but this does not make them more vulnerable to heat injuries. Youth have higher skin blood flow in mild to moderately hot conditions, which allows them to dissipate heat more efficiently through non-evaporative means. So we had all better be careful out there in the heat regardless of our age.

So as I write this, the temperature outside is at 95 already with a heat index at 102, I think it time for me to stay inside as much as possible and complain about the heat. After all, I didn’t make a promise not to. Oh MY!

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