A few days before Christmas I heard a knock on the door. Opened it and a gentleman informed me they were going to turn off my gas for a few minutes to replace the line as part of the road construction going on beside the Henry Hilton. Not too much later he came back, asked to come inside and reset my dryer, plus check out the thermostat. Everything passed and he left. He was not with Georgia Gas but instead worked for a private company.
And then things changed. There didn’t seem to be nearly as much heat coming out of my vents and I noticed the temperature wasn’t able to reach the goal set on our thermostat. Waited a while, then called my heat and air crew from Vining. They came out, did some checking around, and found that an exhaust fan was no longer working. But, that was on a Sunday and since the next day was Christmas we knew it wouldn’t be possible to get a replacement part until the twenty-sixth. So, got out my old space heater, plugged it in, and after it had huffed away for maybe an hour … it blew a fuse! Thank goodness I’d bought a replacement pack of fuses from Ace Hardware, and was able to get the lights back on … but I didn’t dare try the heater though and will see if our recycle crew can take care of that for us.
The day after Christmas someone from Vining Heating and Air arrived with the new part, installed, checked and told me it might take it a little while to catch up since it’d been off several days. But, it didn’t, just kept blowing barely-warm air. They gladly returned, checked out everything and found my meter wasn’t giving enough gas to the furnace. Somehow, I did not lose my patience, and just called Georgia Gas but they referred me over to Atlanta Gas Light. A little after midnight the first technician arrived and cut off our gas and the next morning a crew parked their truck and trailer on the street. Once again the gas was cut off, then they replaced the line which had a defective tap. They started around 10:15 and Praise the Lord, my heat actually was back on by two!
Of course when I bought this house, the furnace was in the crawl space, but it worked for a good ten years before I had to replace it with an exterior unit. Eventually in 2007 I switched to a unit that included air conditioning. We grew up with a wood stove in the kitchen and a coal heater in the living room and I don’t ever recall being chilly in our little rental house on Second Street. (They tore it down last summer and a few weeks ago I saw some builders erecting a pizza restaurant where I used to play ball with my brothers.) My parents had their home built on Indian Springs Street, and again the furnace was in the crawl space, and of course we had no AC in the fifties. We’d go to ‘the picture show’ and marvel at the coolness as we ate our bag of peanuts dumped into our Cokes. I still remember a local motel opening in Jackson with a big sign saying Air Conditioning! I guess I could survive without my central heat and air, and we did get by Christmas day without warmth … but I thanked God when I felt that comfort again. To get by I’d turn on the oven, let it reach 350º and then turn it off and open the oven door. We slept with extra quilts, dined on lots of hot soups, coffee and cups of hot chocolate too.
I did thank God for ALL those who worked so hard to get us back in the comfort zone.
Beverly Wittler has four children, eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. She lives in McDonough with her husband.