Thursday, August 16, 2007
Thermometer in car reaches 106 degrees
All people can talk about just now is the weather. Last night I noticed the weatherman on TV had cloven hoofs, horns, a pitchfork, and a pointy tail. Hmmm... Even “Wiley Coyote” and “Road Runner” in the cartoons are walking, carrying their water bottles!
Monday, as I drove to Holly Springs from Oxford, the thermometer in my car (which I think is accurate) registered 106 degrees.
Our church has a nice room below the sanctuary where we have services during extreme weather. I say that we can enjoy our historic sanctuary when the high for the day is to be above 20 or below 100. At other times, we move downstairs. I hope everyone was more comfortable.
People used to be tougher: I found an old note in our church records from the 1870s when the deacons were instructed to heat the sanctuary to at least 50 degrees; otherwise the service was to be held downstairs. Of course, there was no air-conditioning; although our church preserves an interesting, though primitive air-cooling system.
In the long walls on either side of the 1860 building are passages built into the brick walls, that have openings at the downstairs and upstairs levels. When opened, these encouraged the hot air to rise, drawing up cooler air from downstairs. Coupled with this was a large trap door from the attic to the roof, which when opened worked like a giant chimney, circulating the air. The stained glass windows also had sashes that opened. So the air moved a bit in the various rooms, all by natural flow on the principle that heat rises.
There is still a huge cypress ladder that climbs from the balcony of our church to the attic. It was there so that the men could climb up and open that trap door in the roof. Several years ago when storms kept blowing the trap door off its hinges, we had a roofer close the opening and cover it with shingles. But we left the ladder as a reminder of the old times. Come see us, and I will give you a tour.
I also note that (at least in some years), our summer services were scheduled for 8:30 a.m. I have a photo of Mr. Tomkinson, our minister in the 1930s, in a white linen suit, perfect for conducting services in the hot weather. Of course, everyone used those wonderful old hand fans, distributed by the funeral homes. We still have a few scattered about in our pews.
It is also the season for revivals. Revivals were scheduled after the crops were “laid by” and before they were harvested. They were as much for social entertainment as religious conversion. And yes, Presbyterians -- even Episcopalians -- in Holly Springs once had revivals. It was never too hot for such occasions. Perhaps the heat served as a nice backdrop for the themes that ministers often held forth on then.
The hottest I ever have been was when I served our church in Chicago. It was not air-conditioned. I did buy an electric fan for my Sunday school room, and wouldn’t you know it, a thief came along and took it. That was the only “crime” I ever experienced while living in the big city. I suppose that if the thief really needed it, I was glad for him to have it. I would have given him the fan if he had asked.
Meanwhile, as my cousin Fred used to say, “Be good to yourself, count your many blessings, and communicate!”
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