Monday, May 3, 2010


The temperature is sending tendrils along the thermometer to reach into the 80s here and that's just plain old hot... and then you stick 75% humidity to that and plain old hot turns into maddeningly miserable. I know our summers were hot when I was a kid... After all, I did live on planet Earth and so I'm not from some pleasantly cool planet out in some other solar system ( since we're pretty sure there isn't another planet with intelligent life on it in ours ... That's presuming I am intelligent, too.) Summers were equally hot and I've already written about not having air conditioning. Somehow, though, it was more bearable, and I'd like to give credit to the source of some of the relief. First, there was the water hose. We called it a hose pipe. We did so until we realized that people thought that was hilarious and laughed. " Hose pipe! Hahaha! Oh my God! Where are you from!?" Okay, water hose! But as a kid, hose pipe worked just fine! It didn't matter how high the temperature got outside. The kids weren't allowed to sit around inside the house unless it was pouring rain. Sometimes we wanted to be outside IN the pouring rain. It felt good. In winter we hovered around the oil stove in the living room just long enough to warm our backsides (no central heating and air) and then we dressed and headed outside. But summers were the most awesome. There was no school, and from sunup to sunrise and beyond we played outside. We rode our bikes up and down front street and took a break from there to hit the hose, suck down some cold water (and you could pay $50.00 a bottle for water but it can't touch how good that water tasted that came through 25 feet of Goodyear rubber!)  A good dousing from head to toe and a dash through the shade of the giant Oak tree and we were good for another hour or two at least.  It was heaven to ride with your clothes soaked through. Our tops were little sun tops that Mama sewed for us. She made most of our clothes. Summer was shorts and pedal pushers, sunsuits and now and then we even went topless! We were brown as berries my Aunt Mattie used to say. 
Sometime during the afternoon we'd gather at the corner of Third Street and Front Street because we could hear it as clearly as a Siren's song. It was the call of the Ice Cream Man... Tinkling bells rang out My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean - My Bonnie Lies Over The Sea... We clustered around the truck like bees around a honeycomb. Same concept, right? He'd stop the truck, the song would change to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and while the ones in front of us made their ice cream orders, we hummed along and while our feet were burning on the pavement we'd  kind of do some sort of little ice cream dance while we waited. He handed out Nutty Buddy's, Banana Popsicles, Cherry Popsicles, Ice Cream cups with the little wooden spoons, Fudgecicles, Brown Cows, and then it came my turn. I dug down for my 10 cents, and stepped up to place my order for a Push Up.

There was nothing as refreshing as that tube full of orange sherbet surrounding the creamy center of vanilla ice cream. The little wooden spindle too soon pushed the cardboard base up to my mouth and the treat was finished. This really was a treat, because we didn't get to get ice cream every day. Some days we listened as the little truck trundled down the road behind our house to go to the Black Village - They had to have a seperate neighborhood.  Mama sometimes bought a box of Banana popsicles but not too often. Now and then we'd get the Freeze Pops but nothing tasted as good as those Push Ups from the truck. You couldn't buy them in stores. You could get almost anything else he sold but not those.

The heat of the day lasted throughout the night in our house. The fan brought some relief but not much really.  The cooler breeze it brought also brought the humidity into the house, and as cheaply built as they were, I'm almost positive there was no moisture barrier under them and no insulation in the walls - BUT- that was a good thing! My sister and I shared a double bed when we were little. One side of the bed was along the bedroom wall - with a clearance of about 2 inches. I always liked that side of the bed even though the other side offered the convenience of being able to get up for the bathroom without crawling over the other, and for getting up to get a drink of water in the middle of the night. Nope- none of that mattered in the summer because I could sleep in nothing but panties and I could press my back against the wall. Our humidity here is usually high in the summer and back then it made the walls inside the house 'sweat'. In the middle of the night when it felt like you were glued to the hot sheets because you'd sweated and sweltered, there was nothing that felt as good, and cooled me off so quickly and lastingly as pressing my back against the bedroom wall for that tiny little cool water bath that condensed on the wall.  It was easy too, to fall asleep with my cheek pressed against the wall as well...

I went to Food Lion the other day after working out in the yard all afternoon. The temperature had been in the low 80's and the humidity was high enough to keep a constant sheen of persperation on my face... It was hot. I wanted something cold, and sweet, and passing by the Frozen Food section, I saw my old favorite on the shelf. They've renamed it, given it a proper and fitting name: Dreamsicle. Oh yes, it is the stuff that dreams are made of. Tell me, what is more refreshing than that chilling orange sherbet and more satisfying than the creamy sweet goodness of vanilla ice cream? Nothing!
But if you can't get one, taking the hose pipe water hose to the top of your head and then taking a good long swallow under the shade of the oak tree comes pretty close.