Spring is here and all the joys that accompany it. I walked around Small Group Housing on Campus and once again admired the rustic beauty of the Pond in that area. For several years when I lived in Eldorado…Spring meant the countdown to the weather becoming warm enough to go swimming in Pounds Hollow Creek. Pounds Hollow, which is part of the Shawnee National Forest, was about eighteen miles from Eldorado. Mom loved to swim as much as I did and thus a trip to Pounds Hollow as a semi-weekly adventure throughout the summer…and often three times per week.
Jackie Brooks, my buddy, my cousin Brenda and mom, and I would pile into her 1957 Belair Chevy Convertible and ride with ‘Devil May Care’ attitude to our summer destination. These trips were as fun for me as a trip to Europe…and I could go more often. There was no talk of applying sunblock to your exposed skin in those days, but rather tanning lotion to enable you to lay in the direct sunlight and cook your skin until it was a golden brown. We had no air conditioner in our home…and not many of my neighbors did either. Once it became hot you perspired or sweat…all of the day and throughout the night. Pounds Hollow was a pleasant remedy for heat discomfort. Jackie and I would swim beyond the safety rope of demarcation to the deepwater…where the Water Moccasins dwelt. No one really knew how deep the ‘deep water’ was…but we knew that if you become unable to swim or to float…you might just sink forever. We swam so far out in the water that mom and Brenda were indistinguishable from the other swimmers. We were unafraid as we knew that we were invincible. At times we brought along hamburgers to cook on the grills provided and hot dogs as well…although Jackie preferred his straight out of the package. But, at other times we opted for a stop at the Moo And Cackle fast food restaurant in Harrisburg, Illinois. Harrisburg was just seven miles from Eldorado…and we would eat the five for a dollar burgers as we rode with the top down on moms’ Chevy Ragtop.
Moo and Cackel were a 5 Star Restaurant…in my young mind. Mom and I had little money…but there was always a dollar for their delicious burgers. At times we would drive to Harrisburgh and purchase a dollar’s worth and take them home for our supper.
Lisa, my friend, had airconditioning in her home that was next to ours. In the heat of this summer, she invited me over for lunch and to play with her Barbie and Ken collection. I portrayed Ken… When she opened her front door to invite me in…I felt like that I was entering a refrigerator. I meditated on the chilling experience as I lay in my bed that night covered in perspiration and with my window open about 3 inches to facilitate the kitchen window fan, which was on the exhaust setting, pulling the cool night air into my cracked window. This represented our negotiating with the humid Southern Illinois heat.
Ben Franklin Dime Store advertised on their glass entry door that patrons should come in and shop in Air Conditioned Comfort as a round-faced Cloud Blew Cold Air from his mouth… Our car did not have airconditioning and this was a feature that many automobiles did not have from the factory. We had two windows in the front of our car on both the passenger and driver’s sides. One was the roll-down window and the other window was the Vent Window that was positioned in front of the larger one. The Vent Window had a latch that once unfastened the triangular small Vent Window could be pushed out a little…causing the passing air to blow on the driver or passenger much like a small fan…and if the car moved faster…the wind from the Vent Window moved faster as well.