Beating the Heat the Old Fashioned Way


It got up over 100 degrees when I was a kid too. Back then the only air-conditioned place in town was the drugstore. We’d show up there early afternoons and wander in one at a time, looking interested in the shelves of cold remedies and pain relievers while the frigid air mercifully chilled our sweat-drenched tee shirts.

After a few minutes we’d invariably settle next to the magazine rack where we would page through the latest comic books while keeping a watchful eye out for  old man Finch, the store owner. Sometimes one of us would buy a pack of gum or some penny candy to keep him off balance.

We never fooled him, however, and he finally got tired of us dripping sweat on everything and kicked us out. That’s when we discovered the frozen food locker  attached to Murphy’s Meat Market. The inside temperature stood at zero, and when the thermometer outside broke 100, it was the closet thing to paradise a bunch of 10-year-old boys could hope for.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out we could fill paper cups at the public water fountain on the corner and leave them in the locker for an hour, freezing them into tasty ice cubes. A couple of guys even let their sweaty shirts freeze solid before slipping them back on.

We were busy dreaming up other icy innovations when Mr. Murphy got wind of us and started locking the front door.After that, the best thing we could come up with was splashing our faces with the icy water in the bottom of the Coke machine at Hanson’s gas station. It was okay, I guess, but it would have been better if we’d had some comic books to read.


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