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January 30, 2004

Recent temperatures in our part of the Southwest have been seasonably chilly, but each year the arrival of winter also makes us recall some of the unpleasant summers many of us have endured here. Oklahomans generally like to think that we have climatic extremes - 'way too hot in the summer, and unnecessarily cold in the winter. Actually, with my limited knowledge of weather conditions here and elsewhere, I'm guessing that we are no worse than average in those categories. That may be worse than we'd like but in reality it is not too bad. Does that make sense?

Folks hereabouts have come up with some ingeniously clever ideas for dealing with the weather when things become really nasty. Maybe a few of those ideas were impractical, but somehow they took weather as a serious conversational topic off the table. That made us feel better, and that is pretty important. Growing up in Perry, I learned to respect the people and the improvisations some of them used when the July and August thermometer readings just seemed unreal, they were so high

I remember one year, probably in the late 1930s, The Journal carried a page one weather story each day to report the 100-plus readings and the ways Perry people suffered but endured. During that period people frequently said, with pride, "you could fry an egg on the sidewalk," it was so hot. The Journal printed that and it got some people to wondering. At the time, our family operated the City Drug Store on the north side of the square. My cousin, Fred W. Beers, who worked there, decided to test the theory. He himself believed it was true. One July afternoon, when we all felt at least half-baked, Cousin Fred broke an egg on the sidewalk in front of the store and poured its contents onto the concrete sidewalk. He wore the unlined green jacket of a pharmacist, so he looked very clinical. A small assembly of passersby gathered to watch the experiment. Twenty minutes or so later, neither the yolk nor the white of the egg showed any signs of being cooked, so Fred scraped up the remains and tossed them in the trash. The little crowd of observers silently dispersed, and the old saying just lost its meaning for me.

Recollections of those lazy summer days seem to help temper the times such as we have been experiencing lately. Makes me wonderó which is better, summer or winter? All things considered, I'll take anything in preference to the extremes of January and July in Oklahoma. Here's hoping we all survive many more of them.