By Craig Hastings
Have all of us become soft, spoiled, or a little of both? We’ve experienced a couple of weeks of some pretty intense heat this summer and all the talk is about staying indoors in the air conditioning. Trust me, I’m one of these people that seeks out the comfort of an ac breeze whenever possible. I’m prompted to write this tonight because I just watched a news segment dedicated to staying cool during this heat wave. I was just schooled on key skin points of where to apply a cold towel, how much to drink and when, signs of heat stroke, and….just staying inside the house! Really?
I asked my mom if when her five kids were spending every waking moment outside in the summer if the news channels talked about how unsafe it was to be out in the heat and how to prepare a survival plan for same. “Are you kidding me?” This was her response. So either the summer heat is much more intense in 2018 than it was in 1968 or we as a population in Central Illinois have become soft. A check of summer temperatures years back confirms the high temperatures here are pretty much on par with those of the last thirty years. I’m in agreement with all of you that as children we could more easily ignore the extreme heat and move along with our outside play activities without delay.
But I was thinking back tonight about my own teen summers and how did I deal with the heat in the mid 70’s. First I will tell you that the new home our family moved into in 1960 did not have air conditioning in any room in the house. We lived. Then a few years later dad had a single window air conditioner installed in his and mom’s bedroom. The kids lived. Finally sometime in my teen years dad had a window air conditioner installed in the living room. We lived but cooler than the years before. Some years later a central air conditioner system was installed. Anyway, I started working when I was thirteen years old and not in air conditioning. When I turned sixteen and started driving, my car did have air conditioning, but I didn’t use it! Tim and Jake’s cars didn’t have air, and we didn’t care. After all, the three of us thought ac in a car killed horsepower so who was going to turn it on just in case the random race pulled up next.
We drove around day and night with our windows down during the summer months and….we lived. I don’t ever remember complaining much. We certainly didn’t run home for cool air because it was too hot to be out driving our cars. I can’t ever remember talking about how hot a particular day was, but I’m sure we did. The difference between then and now is; we stayed out and today we go home! Soft and spoiled!
But here’s my loudest thought. I know, I do know that people just didn’t have air conditioning in their houses and motor vehicles then like we all do today! So how is it then that in the 60’s and 70’s the local news wasn’t warning all of us to stay under a shade tree if we didn’t have ac in our homes and not to drive our cars if we didn’t have ac in fear that we were going to die? I remember being warned of sunburn but not of sun heat. So you tell me what’s changed? Since the heat is the same are we not? Soft, spoiled or both?
As I sit here in my air conditioned house with a drink full of ice auto frozen and auto dispensed from my refrigerator, I feel both soft and spoiled. Fifty years ago I might be sitting in our no ac living room, in front of our three channels only television, and with a room temperature Pepsi to drink because I was too lazy to empty an ice tray into the ice container that one of my siblings emptied and was also too lazy to crack an ice tray and replenish the last cubes. Remember how the aluminum ice trays had this T-handle thing sticking up and as you pulled it back it cracked the ice cubes loose by moving individual plates in the tray forcing the cubes to separate? It took much time and effort to crack a tray so I drank my Pepsi warm.
What I would give to be sitting in Four Seasons parking lot tonight outside my car with the rest of the local gearheads bench racing and taking in the lies from one another even though it was 100 degrees today and is still 90 degrees tonight. No air conditioning in our cars and none to go home to either would be okay. I survived it back then, and I’m sure I’m in no danger today. We are being trained to become soft by social, local, and national news medias. We are being told how we should be enduring the heat as opposed to figuring it out on our own by testing our abilities. What’s worse is that because of what the adults read and hear they presume their own children are also of lesser endurance than what they really are. They sound the warning bell at 85 degrees and call all children inside whether their outside having fun or not. Never did school let out early because it was too hot in my day.
We are becoming a race without our own thoughts. We are absorbing too much of what we hear and read as the gospel truth without even trying to test our own abilities. Maybe it’s because life is easier for some to just believe what they see and hear to be the truth. This way they don’t have to put forth any effort to see for themselves what really works best for them. Remember in the 70’s when some of us chuckled watching 5000 or more people sitting in an auditorium listening to a lone speaker speaking loudly and waving his hands in the air? The speaker was telling wild tales of what they see that the rest of us can’t and who they speak to whom none of us could. The only difference between then and now is the auditorium is America and the speaker is social, local, and national media. Turn off your phone, turn off your television, and turn on your own mind. You’re smarter than you give yourself credit.