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2.17.2012

BEFORE AC

When I was a kid there wasn't air conditioning in our church.  It was the 1960's and air conditioning in churches wasn't something at all common.  Especially in the little town I grew up in.  Instead of air conditioning there were hand held cardboardish fans donated by the funeral home which sat diagonal from our church.  Those hand-held non-motorized non-battery operated fans had a picture on them from the 1940's.  It looked like Jesus was comforting people who, I assumed, had lost someone by death.  I suppose because they were used in a funeral home the picture of Jesus comforting people mourning was appropriate.  Maybe even comforting.  I didn't so much enjoy that side of Jesus.  And, I didn't want to think about death too awful long.  I passionately waved my fan back and forth in front of my face hoping to create cooler air, a breeze, a puff even that might possibly keep me from feeling as if I would suffocate from the sanctuary oven I sat in.  I watched the old lady pew a lot while fanning myself.  They were all the widowed women in the church, and much like the teenagers (I wasn't one yet), they sat together in a row.  I surmised in my mind that like people sat with like people.  They were slower fanners than was I.  Maybe possibly when you got really old you just didn't get as hot as my 7 year body did.  They also seemed more high class with their fanning.  It was a sort of longer, slower, more down low fanning with frequent stopping periods.  Maybe it was just too hard to fan because they were old and weak.  My fanning was fast and furious.  I tried to see how close I could get it to my face without hitting my nose.  I tried to create a type of wind tunnel.  I also wondered how old those funeral home fans were.  They were two pieces that slid away from each other on a type of grommet.  But when they were closed, the fan blades resided one behind the other and store neatly in the pews.  I found them fascinating and secretly wished I had one for my bed at home.  They clearly showed the comforting face of Jesus consoling someone in their grief from the death of a loved one.  Or was that His listening face?  Maybe that was the same face He used for both.  The fans clearly advertised the name of the funeral home that allowed you to fan yourself.  I wondered in church if anyone fanning themselves, just by reading the funeral home name, was considering having their funeral there.  Did they pick up business by donating fans to churches?  I wondered.  The colors of the pictures were sort of grayish with a bit of blue, and of course, Jesus in his Jesus robe which was white.  They were muted colors like you would expect to see during a WW II era when they were probably printed.  No flash.  Amazingly enough they had seemed to weather the parishioners fanning themselves year after year.  No doubt the church made sure not to keep putting the same fan near me week after week.  My hand frequently got tired and I tried to get my mom or dad to fan me.  They usually never did.  Sometimes I propped my elbow up with my non-fanning hand much like I figured Aaron did to Moses during that one battle where he held up Moses' arms so they would win.  I think sometimes I annoyed my two older sisters by blowing around the hair of whichever one of them was closest to me.  I don't really remember the de-evolution of the funeral home fans.  I can't recall what year our church got air conditioning, though I don't think it was until the 1970's sometime.  One day the fans were just gone.  All those Jesus/Funeral Home fans were no longer needed.  I wondered about what company made them and how I bet they hated air conditioning.

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