Baby, it's cold outside! The Northeast is experiencing a “Bomb Cyclone,” the Midwest has temperatures below freezing and even in the South people are covering plants and breaking out winter clothing that is needed so seldom.
But as I sit here in my nice, climate conditioned Florida home, I think back on the cold snaps that occurred in my childhood and how we dealt with cold weather.
Back in the late fifties, my parents had a small restaurant that our living quarters (three rooms for the 6 of us) were attached to. It was a concrete block structure with concrete floors. My brothers and I shared a bedroom and our beds were set up one in each corner. We each had our own bed which in itself was a luxury to us.
In the winter-time, we had another luxury in our room – a small gas heater. This heater was our salvation on the cold mornings of my childhood. We weren’t allowed to have it on all night because of the unsafe levels of carbon monoxide it emitted, but, we were allowed to turn it on in the mornings.
During these cold snaps, my brothers, Jim and John, and I did not want to get out of bed. It was warm under the covers and so cold beyond them! The concrete floors felt like ice even with socks on! We would each stay under the covers until the “call of nature” was stronger than our desire for warmth. If I was the first one up, I would jump out of bed and run across the cold concrete floor to a little rug that lay next to the space heater. I would stand on the rug like it was an island in an icy sea! After I lit the space heater, I would hurry to the bathroom which was in the fourth corner of the room. Unfortunately, there was no heat in the bathroom. Every surface you touched felt like an ice cube so getting done with your business didn’t take very long!!
When done, I’d sprint back to the rug next to the space heater and bask in the warmth of that wonderful heater. That moment was one of pure pleasure. My bladder was empty and my toes were warm. Ahhhhh…….Heavenl!
As I think about in the winters of my childhood, I began to think about my grandchildren and the lifestyle they have. How foreign the existence of my childhood would be to them! They wake up every morning in comfort. With the exception of outdoor activities, their life is climate controlled. And, you know, that makes me very happy. I don’t want them to experience life without heat in the wintertime or lack of air conditioning in the summer. I feel blessed that they have it better than I did at their age and for all the conveniences they enjoy that have been invented since I was a child.
And when they have grandchildren of their own, they will more than likely go through this same thought process. Forty years from now, some things that we are doing or experiencing today will seem like stone age activities to my great-great-grandchildren.
It seems that over a few decades the changes in everyday life are monumental. But as time progresses, so should we. As I age, I remind myself to keep an open mind about how things progress. Many times we hear, “Well that’s the way we’ve always done things!” or those were the “good old days.” But my philosophy on life is to remember the lessons of the past and keep my mind open to the future and all the possibilities.
For sure, I really do like central heat and air. I’m not sure how we might improve on that, but I’m open to it! Stay warm and let’s all be thankful for the conveniences of today!