Tom met Ellen in 1950. Tom was a 19 year old sailor boy from up Albany way. Ellen was a Southern gal from Memphis which is where they met. Tom was taking his Navy training as a radio technician. They met in October and wed in December.
Tom knew that his stay in Memphis was going to be short. He would be transferred after he completed his training. He was looking forward to getting out of Memphis.
So was Ellen.
She couldn’t stand the heat or get out of the kitchen.
To combat the Memphis heat, Ellen’s family would bring huge blocks of ice into the house set them into giant ice pans and fan the cool of the ice as far as the cool would travel. This was air conditioning in the South circa 1950.
After Tom completed his training in Memphis, Tom and Ellen were transferred to Atlantic City and stationed there until Tom finished his Navy stint. While in Atlantic City, the couple had their first child, a daughter named Sharlynn.
Soon after Sharlynn’s birth, the young family moved back to Albany. Tom started his civilian life employed as a milkman, next he became a school bus driver. Eventually he was hired at National Cash Register before becoming salesman for Playtex.
(When Sharlynn was if fourth grade, she had a little trouble explaining what ther father did for a living as the concept of "girdles and bras" was an automatic cause of childish tit elation)
Ellen would bear five more children.
Tom decided to move to Rochester to start his own business in the wig industry.
Tom and Ellen stayed in Rochester for the rest of their lives.
Ellen told the children that she NEVER wanted to move back down South.....too damned hot.
The Rochester family could get by on fans during the moderate summer seasons.
Even back then, the country was starting to grow hotter during the summer even in upstate New York.
Air conditioners replaced fans.
Everything was still relatively cool.
The children grew up and stayed around the area.
The youngest son was the first to migrate, completing graduate school in Texas.
The children were getting married having children of their own.
New York state was still getting hotter.
Then central air came along.
Ellen made sure that she had THAT and encouraged her kids to add central air as well for the sake of their kids.
Eventually everybody in the family had central air.
The Summer heat was no longer a problem.
The lack of heat in winter took over as the main problem.
Tom and Ellen, having lived the American dream, passed away leaving 25 grandchildren behind.
Their teenage marriage went the distance.
Ellen never had to head back South. To her grave, she preferred the frigid winters of upstate to the tropical heat of the South.
Her children not so much.
Four of them moved South, taking their children with them.
Back into the heat which had grown even hotter now to the point of life threatening
but alll the kids had
like almost everybody else
which kept them safe
and cool, baby, cool.
Meanwhile as the Globe warmed with carbon
As the lead story in the national news night after night was about weather.
As the giant ice blocks up North melted there was less cool to be blown into the rooms called continents.
We moved down to Carolina.
Tom and Ellen's daughter Sharlynn is my wife.
She always wanted to come down South and when the Rochester darkness, danger and frigidity finally became unbearable, we made our move.
It's over 100 degrees outside now but I'm sitting here in my air conditioned office pounding away at these keys and I'm cool as can be baby. Matter of fact this is what I love most about the South. If somehow you survive twenty minues in the stifle of the outside oven you can just towel off on the porch and step into the air con
cool, baby, cool
so everybody's moving down South and everybody's getting central which of course puts a strain on our power grids which causes more emissions and raises costs as coolants cause greenhouse gasses that cause global warming which threatens everybody by raising the temperature on the earth making it hotter and hotter so that we need more air conditoners which cause more strain which cause more emissions which causes more greenhouse gases that cause more global warming ad nauseum infinitum
while the grandchildren start to have children
who need to keep cool
in the environmental furnace that we've created
and continue to create
that is much hotter
throughout the entire USA
than the Memphis Heat