I’ve spent the past few weeks poking good-natured fun at my grandfather for his creatively salty responses to hot weather.
(I mean, really: “Blisterbitcher” is a masterpiece of improvisatory profanity. Even the East German judge gave it a 9.9.)
Still, my grandpa had at least one good reason to dislike extreme summer heat. So, in fairness to him, I thought I’d devote this week’s entry to telling (cue Paul Harvey voice) “… the rest of the story.”
My grandparents’ old house at 1107 Hope St. in Stamford, Connecticut, has shown up a couple times on this blog, almost as a supporting character. It’s time we took another look at it:
The house dated to the early years of the 20th century. It was a simple, modest home — three rooms up, three rooms down, a bath-and-a-half, a finished attic and an unfinished basement. Also a shared driveway, a nice wraparound porch from which one could watch fire trucks hustling down Hope Street, and a surprisingly large (in retrospect) back yard.
For all its familiar, familial appeal, 1107 Hope lacked some of the creature comforts that are common in more recent homes. And chief among them — at least in July and August — was air conditioning.
Which led to situations like the one in this week’s calendar entry:
On those days (or weeks) when the air stilled to a thick, muggy halt and no breeze offered respite, my grandparents and great-grandmother had no alternative but to fire up a floor fan, pour themselves a cold Seven-Up and wait for nightfall or a thunderstorm. 90 degrees inside the house? I wouldn’t have liked that very much either, I don’t imagine.
Even if my grandparents had wanted A/C — and maybe they did — they would have had to invest in their electrical service first.
In the early ’80s, my dad installed a ceiling fan in the first-floor family/TV room. My grandparents then discovered that they couldn’t run the ceiling fan and the toaster at the same time, due to the limitations of their antiquated wiring.
(The wiring in the condo that currently occupies 1107 Hope Street can probably handle two flat-screen TVs, a dishwasher and a blender full of margaritas without so much as a flicker. Normally, when I invoke the present, I sneer a little bit; but not this time.)
So, for all my jokes about blisterbitchers, I wouldn’t have wanted to face a weeklong heat wave in 1107 Hope Street any more than I would want to face a tsunami in a 22-foot fishing boat. Lends a little perspective to my grandfather’s comments, anyway.
As a side note, I had no idea there was a “Coast Guard Day.” According to Wiki, the predecessor agency to the Coast Guard was founded on Aug. 4, 1790.
Among other things I learned from Wiki, this sentence is part of the Creed of the Coast Guardsman: “I shall live joyously, but always with due regard for the rights and privileges of others.” What other service agency sets an explicit priority on living joyously?
Sure seems like my grandparents were joyous on Coast Guard Day, 1975, when the rain brought the temperature down 20 degrees and made their home livable again.
As a special reward to you, the faithful reader, there will be a bonus post tomorrow. Or maybe it’s a punishment. You decide.