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Pearls of wisdom, wit send cool breeze through the house

[8/15/2004]When Grandma Pearl opened her mouth, what came out was unique.

There was the hard-to-describe voice. It was mellow soft in timbre, Southern country in pronunciation and molasses slow in meter. But she had a way with words, too.

On her side of the family, I am the baby, and I never knew my cousins well, but one wrote his memories of our grandmother. In it he listed some of her colorful expressions and malapropisms.

My favorite was, “I never did like that old air condish,” meaning she thought air conditioning was too cold.

This summer the old air condish has been running overtime at my pad. I don’t particularly like air conditioning either, but I like being hot even less.

It’s run, morning, noon and night. And I’ve got the Entergy bills to back up my claim.

It was after gazing at the latest bill that I had to take stock of my current situation. I remembered the house’s attic fan.

The house’s previous owner boarded up the attic fan and taped over the switch in the hallway.

I remembered her words. It still worked and if I wanted to use the fan, it would be pretty easy to reverse.

The year and a half I’ve been in the house has seen many struggles to reincorporate fresh air into the house.

Not only has the attic fan been decommissioned but all the windows are double paned, and some of them just won’t open.

And, the two in the kitchen that do open don’t like to stay open. They slam shut on their own volition if not wedged with a stick.

As the previous owner showed me around the house, she said, “I’m an air-conditioned girl.”

That old air condish again.

So last Saturday morning found me pulling a ladder to reach the attic door. Call me chicken, but I don’t like to climb rickety stairs into a room floored with 2x4s, and I don’t like standing in a room where the ceilings are so low that I, at 5 feet 2 inches, must duck. So this was my first trip into the attic since before I moved into the house.

I remembered the attic fan we used in the suburban ranch-style house where I grew up.

I remembered the comforting sound and the steady breeze it delivered during the in-between seasons.

I imagined having this same breeze in my house. I imagined a much lower Entergy bill, what with no air condish running.

It was my hope that it would be simple to reinstate the fan. But it was not. I resigned myself to at least one more high utility bill before the days grow permanently cooler.

My time with Pearl was brief because she moved away from Mississippi when I was 6. I remember our hours together in shades of brown, with only splashes of other shades. There was her red hair and a black cat.

And there was her bed under a window in her two-room house on Boling Street in West Jackson. She told me stories and taught me to draw stars and cubes. We’d lie there and watch the street from the open window.

There was, of course, no air condish.

Sonya Kimbrell is features editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail her at skimbrell@vicksburgpost.com.