By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
This past Tuesday the world, especially our part of it, breathed a silent but heart-felt thank-you to Willis Carrier who, 110 years prior, invented modern air conditioning, carving in stone the line in history before which all remembrances of the good old days must be marked with an asterisk.
Carrier, an engineer, created his invention to solve humidity-related problems at the printing company where he worked in Buffalo, N.Y.
It’s unclear what printing companies in New Orleans and Miami and Houston did about their humidity-related problems, which surely must have existed 11 more months per year than those enjoyed by residents of Buffalo, but it seems likely they did what everyone else in the Deep South did, which was suffer.
As outdoor enthusiasts, we spend a lot of time pining for eras in history most of us either never experienced at all or don’t remember honestly, times when the pace of life was slower and there were no cell phones to ring, when hunting and fishing opportunities stood in glorious abound and when families were more closely connected. Certainly these elements truly existed, but not in a vacuum. It’s important to realize the pace of life was slower because it was too hot to move very fast, hunting and fishing opportunities often lay closer to hand but pure lack of financial resources hampered most people’s access and enjoyment, and families were more connected because fewer of us could afford to get far enough away from each other to be otherwise.
Viewed from this angle, it’s hard not to look at today as the good old days. Whitetail deer and wild turkeys both exist in record numbers directly due to sportsman-backed stewardship measures that conserve game and protect public waters and lands. Fishing opportunities likewise benefit from efforts made by the fishermen themselves. Furthermore, even in the current economy, good opportunities lie within the geographical grasp of just about everyone.
There have been setbacks, no doubt but, on the whole, the shift has definitely been toward the good.Maybe we’re too often victims of the fallible nature of memory. Summers were milder, mosquitoes less numerous, fish more ready to bite in days lost to the flowing river of time. I’m as softhearted as anyone you’d find but when I come across selective memories like these it makes me want to follow Mark Twain’s cynical directive to “get up, take a turn around the block and let the sentiment blow off.”
When I do, I’ll certainly set my cell phone to silent.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.