The Best of Andy Rooney

When we get up in the morning, it's hard not to think about the temperature outside -- whether it's too hot, too cold, or about right. We can't do anything about it, but the weather is important to the day and makes a difference in what we choose to wear.

The warmer weather we have now is more bearable than it used to be because of the things we've invented. Our houses have been heated one way or another for centuries, but air conditioning is a relatively recent invention. I don't know why it's not called "cooling" instead of "conditioning," but there may never have been an invention better than air conditioning.

We can't even fathom driving in hot weather without air conditioning in the car. If I had to choose between heating my car in the winter and cooling it in the summer, I'd choose air conditioning.

Imagine what it must have been like before the advent of air conditioning. Air conditioning in our homes and offices started coming in around the late 1920s, and really took off after World War II.

It's hard to believe we worked in offices and lived in homes whose only cool air in summer came from an open window. When I was growing up, we had two fans in our house that moved the air around the large rooms. On hot days, believe me, they didn't do much good.

Oil heat is relatively new in our homes. My father traveled much of the time and when I was young I used to go down in the cellar when my mother shoveled coal into our furnace. She was good at this, but before I was old enough to shovel coal myself, we'd switched over to oil heat. It was better and less work. You don't have to shovel oil into your furnace, although there's an alluring mystique to burning coal that oil doesn't have.

We had a cottage on a lake when I was young, and when we went there in early spring or fall, we needed the heat we got from our fireplace. I feel sorry for anyone who's never had to heat their living space with a fireplace because between cutting logs and chopping the wood into a size you can burn is one of the most satisfying jobs known to man.

As an added attraction, we roasted marshmallows and cooked steak over the fire. I also feel sorry for anyone who's never had the satisfying fun of roasting a marshmallow over an open fire. We often ate the fire-burned outside of the marshmallow and held the gooey white part back over the fire to brown what was left. Marshmallows are terrible until they're toasted, and then they're one of the best things there is to eat. It must be 60 years since I've eaten a marshmallow but I clearly remember what they taste like.

Four of us hung out together all summer, and eating marshmallows was just one thing we did. We swam the three miles across the lake, climbed the mountain and slept there overnight, and caught frogs our parents used as bait when they went fishing. We waited for the mail to be sorted after it came off The Big Boat, then had a great and dangerous time diving off the back of the boat as it pulled away from the dock.

I palled around with two boys and two girls. The girls were twins and I can remember they often wore bloomers. Bloomers have gone out of style. We did everything together all summer, but there was never any funny business. We just had fun together.

And whatever the weather, we didn't mind.

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