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Dealing With The Heat In An Earlier Time in Johnson County

The weather has been hot for the last several days. We complain about it, but as surely as I’m writing this column, come winter, we’ll be complaining about the cold weather. Mountain City is fa-mous for having the coldest temperature in 1917 and 1962. In Mountain City on December 30, 1917 the temperature fell to 32 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. And on December 6, 1962 the temperature topped out at minus 25 degrees in Johnson County. It was reported that Mountain City was the coldest spot in the entire nation at that time. That was the word in a letter from home while I was in the Army stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Anyway, the weather we’re having now seems to me to be the hot-test I’ve ever known. But, I’ll have to admit as I was growing up in Johnson County there were some pretty hot days. Picking beans, making hay, hoeing corn, and other chores around the farm proba-bly made it seem even hotter that it really was.
Saturday evening was our time to get in the car and head for Mountain city. That was a welcome respite from the work and heat of the day. Those days were prior to the widespread use of Air Conditioning. I remember that even the small town of Mountain City was exciting to a youngster in that day. Mountain City had movies then. There were a number of restaurants but of course there were no chain restaurants then.
Some of the businesses had ceiling fans for the comfort of their customers. I remember that the Courtesy Drug Store on West Main Street had a big ceiling fan at the door. There was the Peoples Rexall Pharmacy on the corner where the Army Surplus Store is now located. There was another pharmacy on South Church Street but I can’t remember the name of it. I think those drugstores had ceiling fans as well. Many other businesses had ceiling fans then.
I was unable to find the highest recorded temperature in Johnson County but the highest recorded in Tennessee was 113 degrees Fahrenheit at Perryville July 29, and August 9, 1930. Perryville is in the western part of our state. Remember when folks would enjoy having the windows down as they drove on those hot and humid days and nights. Now, you rarely see a car with the windows down due to the car air conditioning. I guess only dogs enjoy putting their faces out the window these days.
There is an old joke about the man who was starting out on a trek across the desert carrying a jug of water, a lunch pail and a car door. When asked how those items would benefit him, he said the water was for when he became thirsty; the lunch pail was when he got hungry. The questioner asked, “What on earth is the car door for?” “When I want to cool off, I’ll just roll the window down,” the man replied.
Oh well, the bottom line is that it is a lot easier to stay cool today than it was in years gone by. But, extreme temperatures, whether too cold or too hot, causes much difficulty for many folks when their electric power and other utilities are down as a result of the weather. As I write this column tonight, many are still without power. My heart goes out to them and my prayer is that their power will be restored very soon.