Sat, Jan 19 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Pena
If there is someone out there who wishes to strike it rich in a stock market endeavor I might suggest investing in any of those companies that are in the business of keeping the living room of the average home at a reasonable temperature.
Take my own household, for example. The thermostat has been set at a steady 72 for the past several days and we are barely keeping our poor bones above the freezing level. Instead of walking into the bedroom side we are sometimes tempted to ski in and maybe take a slalom or two.
We fire up the electric blanket a couple of hours before bed time and breathe a sigh of contentment when we settle in. For the first time in some hours we have been warm. Reminds me a little bit of the old Robert Service poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”
I think that my house was built at a time when the builder thought it was the vogue to take short cuts. If a six-foot board would do the trick why use an eight-foot board? If you asked him what sort of insulation he was going to use he would have looked at you quizzically and asked, “Whazzat?”
I am, of course, exaggerating. But not by much. It has been unseasonably cold. The weather man on the TV, the daily papers that inform us and even the fellow we meet on the street will confirm that, yes, it is a might cool. I have a spot out in front of my garage where I sometimes sit and absorb whatever heat old sol is distributing. My two cats also like that spot and they sometimes sit with me.
The other morning I was there and thinking of cold weather that I have experienced. There was, initially, my growing up years in Texas. We would go to bed at night, comfortable with a single sheet for cover and awaken with a ton of blankets that the mother had piled on us during our sleeping period. What had happened, we would wonder?
What we had experienced was a typical Texas Norther. This was an Arctic storm that had made its way south over the middle of the country until it reached Central Texas. They used to say that the only thing to hinder the storm was a strand of barbed wire strung up somewhere in the panhandle.
This was, naturally, part of Texas living. We would arise, dress while we shivered in front of the only source of heat, the kitchen stove’s oven. Then we would take that 12 block walk to school. The 10 blocks east was a piece of cake. It was the two blocks north that was the killer. We could take it early or late. It made little difference. We were going to walk into a wind that had tiny little stings, somewhat resembling a sharp knife, that were going to pierce various parts of our faces, most particularly the lips. We looked hideous but we did not think too much about it. The guy next to us looked just as bad.
I suppose that the coldest spot I was ever in was courtesy of WW II in the Aleutians. The Detroit, my wartime ship, spent a few years in that area keeping the enemy out while they spent a few years trying to stay in.
There was a time in my life when I could picture the various islands in the chain better than I could my own home town. It was pretty late in the war when I had transfer orders sending me back to the states for reassignment. While awaiting transportation we were housed in a Quonset hut that was warm and comfortable enough. As I recall the biggest drawback in this duty was the fact that one had to walk some hundreds of yards to other buildings to get meals and other such things. For example one had to wait sometime for a crew to shovel away the snow from the door so that we could go to the bathroom. Ah, the hardships of war.
On another ship in another assignment I went back to the Aleutians. While there, after a period of time, we were sent back to Seattle for recreation. It was the Fourth of July and a group of us went to the ball park to see the Seattle Rainiers play the San Diego Padres. I got so cold that I left in the 7th inning. I am not positive but I think I was longing to get back to the Aleutians.
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