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Darrell Huckaby: Salem is a great way to escape the heat

Salem is a great way to escape the heat

Hot enough for ya?

If it is not I can only think of one place to send you that might be a little bit hotter and I try my best to help people avoid that nether-region.

Dang it is hot! Forget the humidity Roscoe. It is the temperature.

A couple of Fridays ago I found myself on the way to Atlanta and the thermometer in my car was reading 108 -- then it climbed a couple of degrees en route. It was 110 in the shade on Peachtree Street. 110 is hot, wet or dry. David Chandley said it was the hottest day in the history of Georgia and WSB pays him a lot of money to keep up with that sort of thing.

How hot was it? It was so hot that I saw a hound dog chasing a rabbit and they were both walking. That's how hot it was.

Now this summer ain't my first rodeo. I have experienced heat before. My lovely wife Lisa and I were in Death Valley one day when it was 119 degrees. I got out of the car in Tucson, Ariz., when the thermometer claimed it was almost that hot and I felt like I was in a giant oven. A couple of summers ago I was rafting down the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park and the tour guide claimed it was 117. And I spent the summer of 1980 in deep South Georgia, way below the gnat line, and it was almost as hot as it has been around here this summer. Almost -- but not quite.

I don't know how many days in a row we reached triple digits, but it was a bunch of them -- and it hasn't cooled off appreciably at night, either. The days it hasn't reached the 100s the highs have been in the 90s and when the humidity is as high as the temperature, that creates some miserable conditions.

But we still have it better off than folks did back in the "good old days."

Sociologists claim that air conditioning is the greatest thing that ever happened to the economy of the American South -- and the worst thing that ever happened to the social graces of the South. AC has helped the economy because businesses that would never have dreamed of relocating to such a sultry climate have embraced the region because now they can control the environment of the work place year-round.

AC has also driven us indoors to watch television at night. We have abandoned long conversations on the front porch and neighbors no longer meander up and down neighborhood sidewalks of an evening, stopping to pass the time of day with anyone who happens to be outside.

There was no air conditioning in the Porterdale of my youth, so when it got as hot as it has been this summer -- we were just hot. We would try to stay in the shade and we would cool off by swimming in the local pool, or the Yellow River when we dared try to get away with it. Once in a great while the volunteer fire department would open up a fire hydrant and all the children in the neighborhood would delight in running in and out of the streaming water.

I remember my mama covering the sunny side of our little house with white sheets on particularly hot days and then turning the hose on the sheets. At night we would sleep in front of a window fan in an effort to find a little relief from the heat.

My children have no idea what we went through back in the day to try to stay cool -- or at least they wouldn't know if not for camp meeting.

My family and a couple hundred other "tenters" have been roughing this week at Salem Campground. We have been looking for any way we could to stay cool while enjoying excellent preaching and old time Gospel hymns. We have renewed old acquaintances and made many new friends. Salem is a touchstone for my family. It is one constant we look forward to each year in a world of rapid change. It is a life-changing and life-affirming event and I wouldn't be anywhere else when they ring that old bell every night at 7:45 and we all stand to sing "Sweet, Sweet Spirit."

Yes, it is hot under the tabernacle, but there are lots and lots of fans and we make do. Besides, things cool off considerably once the sun goes down and we salve our feelings afterward by enjoying homemade ice cream. Peach seems to be the most popular flavor.

Salem has almost passed us by for another year. If you haven't been to an evening service, you have three more chances. I highly recommend it. The weather is supposed to break today so the evenings should be fairly pleasant. Besides, you might just make a decision that will help you avoid a place that's a lot hotter than the North Georgia Piedmont -- even during a record-breaking summer.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.