Back in the A.B.A.C.

Father David Epps's picture

A couple of Mondays ago, I arrived by car in Selma, Ala., at about 8:30 p.m. The temperature on a local bank clock proclaimed that, as the sun was sinking in the distance, it was 100 degrees. One hundred degrees at 8:30 at night. I thought about going to the pool at the Jameson Inn where I was spending the night, but it was just too hot. I would have felt like a lobster going for his last bath.

Last Friday, back home in the more-comfortable mid-90s, my wife and I were talking about how hot it was. I recalled that, in my boyhood home in Kingsport, Tenn., there was no such thing as air conditioning — at least not until I left home to go to the Marines, at which time my parents bought a window unit for the TV room.

“How in the world did we ever survive in the South,” I mused, “without air conditioning?” I remarked that I was so profoundly grateful that we did not have to live that way anymore. As if on cue, the air-conditioning in our home ceased working.

How did we survive? Back then, the only buildings in my world that were air-conditioned were the movie theaters. Both the Strand Theater and the State Theater, located downtown across the street from each other, proclaimed that the air inside was “chilled.” Their advertising banners displayed white icicles on a blue background enticing scorched shoppers to come inside where the Coke and the popcorn tasted better if you weren’t expiring from heat stroke.

At night, the windows came open at our house. Each room had a floor fan pointed at the bed’s occupant and the noises that filtered in from the woods next door sounded like night time in a Tarzan movie. Mornings were always cooler but the oppressive heat of the day lasted long into the night.

Several times a week, my mom let me hop the bus and go to the American Legion pool, a public facility that was frequented by kids whose parents didn’t have a pool in the back yard or whose dad didn’t work for the Eastman Chemical Plant (the Eastman had a pool for dependents of its employees). If one could evade the young thugs that came from the nearby neighborhood and beat up smaller kids to make themselves feel tough, then the experience was blissful.

During the afternoons, when there was no pool, there was the front porch. Every house in my neighborhood had a porch. Not a deck — as in “sun deck” — but a porch with rocking chairs, a roof, and , above all, a breeze.

People from Northern climates used to think that Southerners were lazy and slow because they were shown scenes of Southern folks sitting on a front porch sipping sweet iced tea or lemonade. It’s just that in the South in the A.B.A.C. (age before air conditioning), the inside of the house was much hotter than the porch.

You drank iced tea or lemonade to re-hydrate so that you wouldn’t die. And about being slow — let’s see how fast you move in blistering temps in a world before AC.

I played junior high and high school football back in the A.B.A.C. There were two-a-day practices in pads, there were no water breaks (“Sissies need water, boy, not football players”), the players took two salt pills per practice, and each player received a lemon wedge to suck on to give him the illusion that he wasn’t going to thirst to death.

It’s a wonder we all didn’t die. It’s also a wonder that the lemon wedge left us any enamel on our teeth.

Sweat, of course, was a fact of life, which is why the sales of Right Guard spray deodorant and Jade East cologne made some people very rich. I bathed every night, without fail. I also sweated through the night until autumn finally came and the breezes coming through the windows became cooler.

Last Friday, a friend came by the house after he got off from work, fixed my air conditioner, and became my hero of the month.

I still sometimes sit on the front porch, I still drink iced tea (with Splenda, not sugar anymore), and I don’t ever suck lemon wedges.

Sometimes people talk about the “good old days.” Not me. I know why the dinosaurs died. They lived in the A.B.A.C. These are the good old days — turn the air down, would ya?

[David Epps is the founding pastor of Christ the King Church, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277, between Peachtree City and Newnan. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. He is also the bishop to the Mid-South Diocese (ICCEC) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Church in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at A website is available at]

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Submitted by Spyglass on Fri, 07/03/2009 - 8:36am.

ABAC...the great school in Tifton. But I digress...good column none the less.

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