by Andy Rooney

You can feel summer coming and I don't like it. It begins on June 21. Heat is harder to deal with than cold.

When it's cold, you can put on another coat or turn up the heat, but there's just so much you can take off to stay cool when it's hot outdoors.

The hottest I have ever been was in the barracks of the 17th Field Artillery at Fort Bragg, N.C., 68 years ago. I know it's unfair. It wasn't North Carolina's fault, but I have always hated that state because of how hot it was back then.

The single greatest step forward made by civilization, in my not particularly humble opinion, was the invention of air conditioning. Just imagine being able to change the temperature of a place from hot to cool in just minutes. Can you imagine what it must have been like in Arizona or Florida before air conditioning?

Our cars are good to drive in the summer now because we can cool them with the windows closed. It's even easier to keep them warm in the winter -- with the windows closed, of course.

My parents bought their first car years before cars came with air conditioning. All we could do, trying to stay cool, was wind the windows down. We could always heat our cars. I don't know why, but heating cars came years before cooling them.

Uncle Bill owned a Reo before air conditioning was even thought of for cars. We also owned a Packard, and I remember reading that Packard was the first car manufacturer to offer air conditioning. Our Packard didn't have that feature, though. So many of the car companies I remember from my youth are no longer in business. It's not because of air conditioning. I wonder if Ford will ever become a name of the past.

Cooling anything costs more than heating the same thing.

The engine in a car produces a lot of heat because it's driven by an explosion of gas in the cylinder, which forces the piston up and that moves the cam shaft around and then the wheels turn. (Don't try to follow this as if I knew what I was talking about.) Cooling a car takes more energy than heating one, so you use more gas when you run the air conditioning.

Today they're making hybrid cars that use both an internal combustion engine and a big battery to power the car. I wonder how this will affect the cost of heating and cooling the car.

We bought an air conditioner for our living room years ago but it hasn't been so long since our bedroom was hot at night.

In the not-so-distant past, stores weren't all cooled, office buildings weren't cooled, air conditioning in cars was rare and people used to go to the movies just to get cool because motion picture houses were among the first public places to use air conditioning.

My house in the country doesn't have a central air conditioning system. To get cool, we use the individual window air conditioners in each room. Some of the rooms, like the bathrooms, aren't air-conditioned. I guess we have an old house.


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