Of the many things I'm thankful for this summer...Cola icees, the Wave Country, gold braided sandals, the online presence of season 9 of Project Runway on Hulu...I have to say, my air conditioner is RIGHT THERE at the top of the list. It's a Trane model put in sometime in the early nineties'...I know this because I distinctly remember its installation for two reasons: one, a toddler-sized Susan crawled into the closet where they'd cut the hole for the register and fell under the house for a less-than-two-minute period (of great agitation and excitement) before my pappy hauled her out; two, I had some weird, five-year old's crush on the Dale-Earnhardt-resemblant head installation guy, and sat in my favorite tree and cried when they told me we had air conditioning now, but that I would probably never see Darryl again. Later that day, my broken heart somewhat mended, I came down from the tree, and enjoyed the fruits of my unrequited love's labor. And have been so happy with air conditioning ever since! It's about the only thing that has gotten me through the recent heatwave sweeping my beloved South.
|Turn it up! However high it goes, turn it on that!|
Which set me to wondering, naturally...what was life like, in the South, in the summer, WITHOUT the benefit of air cooling future technology? Probably like being within spitting distance of hell. From these 1953 ad clippings for a variety of air conditioning brands, I am convinced that a mid century me would probably sell my car to have one of these, rather than languish in heat-induced misery. Let's take a look at fifties' air conditioners, shall we?
The above clipping is from an ad for a Servel model which looks like a gorgeous console record player of the same vintage to me. What I love about this advertising tactic is the juxtaposition of a man who's so hot he's taken off his jacket (that's almost like being naked in public!) and is dabbing his brow with his pocket handkerchief outside, in stark contrast to the people having a ball indoors with their Servel Air Conditioner. Note the woman's smart kerchief and charm bracelet, the neat-looking bar cart to the left, and the standing man's striking resemblance to Peter Finch. Also, are the lady in blue and the woman of the house in green doing some kind of coded sign language to each other? Lady #1: "One more?" Lady #2: "Sure, one more for the road!" ((secret coded meaning: "Do not let Peter Finch drink anymore Long Island Ice Teas, fortheloveoftheLord....")) This air conditioner also comes in a mahogany model, which I think speaks to the consumer's fear of having this ugly, metal, hulking object sticking out of their window. Even if it DOES provide a necessary household function, let's make it handsome!
Because it seems like EVERY electronics manufacturer there was wanted in on this whole "air conditioning" racket, here's Philco's 1953 models. I think I may like the be-legged console air conditioner even better than the first one in the Servel ad. Doesn't it look dignified! And $229.95 with a 5 year warranty seems totally reasonable (cheap, even!) until you realize that's almost two thousand dollars in 2010's money. LAWD! We might have to do with a series of oscillating and box fans set up in a complicated pattern to provide air movement AFTER all.
|But they're so fancy looking!|
Talk about heavy proclaiments and promises in advertising! Look at this one:
AS SURE AS YOU LIVE AND BREATHE. I love it! The Megan-from-Mad-Men-esque woman in the color ad below is adjusting the unit for maximum breathability just as she shoots a loving glance towards her pipe-smoking husband. Don't you love the house across the street, too? I think this is one of the most attractive ads with the least attractive products. You can't have it all, I guess.
Last but not least, IT & T (not to be confused with AT & T, which was later and not-related) created the "Coolerator", which looks the most like in-window air conditioning units of the present, but isn't that a shame when they could look like that Cadillacky Philco model! They make up for in advertising props what the machine lacks in natural elegance. You've got a cool looking model, a driftwood and floral table arrangement, a neat hand printed fish wall hangings, and WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT a fiber glass mobile. This one looks a lot like it, but it also costs $500. That's not as much as an air conditioner, though! Maybe you could make one yourself with an apprising eye and a trip to the hardware store. But I digress...
How thankful are YOU for your air conditioner? Don't take it for granted! Do you remember the first time you had air conditioning, either in your house or your car? What would you do to keep cool in the summer before the age of modern conveniences? Which 1953 air conditioner would YOU most like to have in your home? Do tell!
See you tomorrow for Photo Friday!