We Kids Fought the Summer Heat with A/Cs and Coke-a-Colas

Mom with baby me in front of Gihon Grocery.

Mom with baby me in front of Gihon Grocery.

Microfiche Mommy here again. While I was looking through an old 1973 paper the other day, I found an ad for a 27000 BTU window-mount Westinghouse air-conditioner unit for $399.00.

That would be expensive even by today’s standards. Just goes to show how we southerners will pay dearly for our cool air and humidity controller. I know that I would.

See, I can pretty much deal with the heat, but I loathe the humidity.

When I was growing up in rural south Alabama, Ben and I would visit Gramma M in north Ala. She had one of those window units in her home (but maybe not a 27000 BTU Westinghouse one). We would visit her for a week after we’d get done with camp each summer. (Camp was in north Alabama, not far from Gramma M’s.)

We also had window units in the store, Gihon Grocery. We’d come into the cinder block store after playing out in the intense summer heat. It would feel like we were coming into Alaska, it would be so cold. Wonderfully cold.

Customers would come in with the door banging shut behind them. They all commented. Every last one of them, coming from outside. It didn’t matter whether they’d driven to Gihon Grocery in an air-conditioned Cadillac or an old Ford work truck with no windows. They all commented on the heat. Even if it was just a grunt and a shake of their heads in disbelief. We knew what they were talking about.

Ben and I’d grab a coke from the cold drink box, pop the bottle caps with the opener, and listen to the clink as the bottle cap landed in the catcher with the other pile of caps. We’d guzzle the frigid soda down, feeling the slow burn of the fizz down the backs of our dry throats. One of the store clerks would give us a tissue to catch the condensation and keep our hands from hurting from the coldness of the glass bottle.

We had been drinking the pop since we were little kids. I remember swishing the beverage around in my mouth to keep it from burning the back of my throat.

We’d hang out a bit, sitting on a vacant check-out counter, and listen to Aunt Dossie and Louise chat with customers. Then we’d go back out into the furnace of the outside to seek other adventures.

Aunt Dossie talking with Gramma Findley in the store.

Aunt Dossie talking with Gramma Findley in the store.