Sometimes, sitting in my 72 degree house (which is too cold for me; I constantly bump the thermostat up, then my husband bumps it back down), I reflect on how wimpy we are these days. When I was a child, our house was basically without AC. Sure, we had “window units” here and there, but central AC was not a common thing. And southern Indiana got hot and humid in the summer.
We had an attic fan “upstairs” (we lived in a split level house), and I can still hear its hum at night, even though it seemed to do little except circulate the hot air. Some nights, when it was unbearably hot, the whole family moved five steps lower to the living room, where we’d sleep on the floor with just the screen door separating us from the great, sticky outdoors.
During the summer, my sister and spent a lot of time playing in our backyard playhouse. Again, no AC, and it was hot in that enclosed little space, but I don’t have memories of being miserable. We put a box fan in the door, the better to move the humid air with.
I remember moving in to Willkie dorm at IU as a freshman, way up on some high floor. No AC there either, just another box fan to move around. Just to see how hardy we college kids were, IU also had a policy of not turning on the heat in the dorms, no matter how cold it got, until November 1. We learned not only about Shakespeare and calculus, but also about how to survive extremes on both end of the thermometer.
How to cope with all that heat? With ice cream, of course.
When I was about 19?? my dad, along with two other elementary principal friends, bought our hometown Dairy Queen. I worked there during my college summers, and I loved it. Those were carefree days, visiting with good friends — both those who worked at the DQ and those who came to eat. Our DQ was a walk-up type; there was no indoor seating. We employees had a great time talking, listening to “Almost Paradise” on the little radio inside, and feeling the adreline rush each time an entire little league team would arrive for treats, often shouting from the back of a pickup truck. The call “ball team!” always sparked someone to open the third window for a line dedicated to these happy, loud kids shouting things like, “Do you have hamboogers?”
I worked at the DQ when the blizzard first came out. It was our DQ policy that, when you worked, you could eat whatever you wanted, free – and boy, did I take advantage of that. Hot fudge sundaes with Reese cups, chili dog splits, you name it — it was good. Long-time employee friend Rhonda often greeted me with “the fudge is stickin’ today” — this meant that the hot fudge’s consistency had that rare but wonderful quality where it clung heartbreakingly to the soft serve, instead of pooling around the bottom in its usual fashion. Delicious!
People often commented, “I bet you get sick of ice cream, working at the Dairy Queen.” Would you think that? You would be wrong, my friends. Despite consuming ice cream each day I worked, I never did tire of any of it. I am drooling even as I type this, in fact. Years ago, I ate a corndog at Oktoberfest and found a fly embedded in the batter. I have never since wanted to eat a corndog. And yet, ice cream I have never tired of. Why is that? After working a shift at DQ, I stood in the shower at home and could smell the sticky sweetness oozing out of my very pores. And I saw that it was good, very good :).
How about you? Memories of surviving the heat without AC or about the yumminess that is ice cream?