I grew up in Manchester, Connecticut in a medium-sized dutch colonial on Center Street. We did not have central air but we did have a few window air-conditioners in the upstairs bedrooms so we could sleep at night. We did not have any in the main part of the house but for some reason we had one in our semi-finished basement rec room.
I grew up in a house with 10 people. I am the youngest of 6 children all of whom are a year apart or so. My mother’s mother and my father’s father lived with us too. On those really hot summer days; you know, the ones where it is so hot and humid you can barely breath, some of us would go to our local elementary school’s public pool. We would walk home smelling of chlorine and our hands all pruned up because we had spent so much time in the water.
We would come home and find out what was for dinner. To our delight, on those hot summer days, we had corn on the cob and tomato sandwiches. I’m talking about the kind of tomatoes you get at the mom-and-pop farm stands, so sweet, so delicious, so fresh and one huge slice would cover the whole piece of bread. My favorite way to eat this was to toast the Wonder bread just lightly, add Hellman’s mayonnaise on each slice of toast, one huge slice of beefsteak tomato, and a little salt and pepper. Now that was a sandwich. Follow this with a side dish of corn on the cob slathered in butter, salt, and pepper and you’ve got a truly heavenly meal.
Since there were ten of us, and it was so hot, we would set up card tables in the rec room. We would all make our plates and walk down the stairs to the basement balancing our dinner the whole way down. We would all resound a big “ahhhh” as we stepped into the air-conditioned cellar and found our place at the table. It was cool, comfortable, and everyone seemed to be in a much better mood once they got into the coolness, with their tomato sandwich and their corn on the cob. It is a happy memory for me now that I am 42 and I live alone (with air-conditioning, of course).
It is hot outside, here in Springvale, Maine; hot and humid. I just went to the supermarket and bought corn on the cob and tomatoes; I already have the bread and mayo. I had a smile on my face as I waited in line at the checkout but I doubt the checkout girl, or anyone else, had any idea why.
If you have a childhood memory that brings a smile to your face in your adult life, I’d love for you to share it here.