Growing up in a pre AC era I often recall days like today when the mercury reached 100+ and wonder how did we survive without air conditioning? I actually remember the day we got our first fan. It happened to be my 6th birthday; it was a Cool Home fan. That wasn’t my birthday gift but it could have been, even a fan was a welcomed addition.
Then a few years later we got a second fan. On Leland Avenue, we were hi rollers. As a kid we never really stayed in the apartment during the day so I guess the heat never seemed to bother us. We would play on the shady side of the street and take a break when there was no shady side of the street.
But the worst was yet to come. When I turned 18 and got a job in the mailroom at Lorillard Corp and had to take the IRT 6 train to Grand Central, and a new level of torture by heat presented itself.
Now, you were hot from the moment you stepped out on to Leland Avenue and made your way over to the Parkchester station. But then getting on the 6 was like entering a sauna. In fact, we used to joke and say, “It’s like a sauna in here,”
Ok, so we weren’t funny, but it was freakin hot. The sweat dripped right off your head onto your NY Times, which you had to fold in a very special way, the art of which has been lost unfortunately, but where was I? Yeah, it was freakin hot. But it got better.
We got to 125th and changed for the downtown express. The train was right across the platform and it was already jammed with people. However, if you positioned yourself, as I always did, right by the door so that you could scoot over and just squeeze yourself into the little bit of the free space available, you were able to make the train.
I was not the only one, though, who wanted to make the train and it was not unusual for me to have barely squeezed in to suddenly find myself on the opposite side of the car, having been crammed through like the chopped meat at Lenny’s butcher shop. This, of course, only made it freakin hotter.
This tender memory of days gone by does absolutely nothing to help me deal with today’s heat. It is unfortunate that I am no longer 18 as I think that would have enabled me to cope better. Not having to commute on the Long Island Rail Road in this summer of hell does take the sting out of the weather.
I do take comfort that there is no snow to shovel or ice to chip and I will try to focus on taking a dip in the pool that while I try to remember those halcyon days or extracting my shoe out of the melting surfaces of the city streets