Sunday, August 22, 2010

the sound of comfort

I have three vintage oscillating fans.  I have a beautiful black GE fan in my basement.  I use it all the time in the Summer.  I have a small one in the garage, mostly for looks because it doesn't put out that much.  Yesterday while working in the garage, Gina pulled out my huge Westinghouse fan from the corner.  It hadn't worked since I got it three or four years ago.  She plugged it in, but it didn't work for her.  The cord was in terrible shape, having been gnawed to pieces by an animal.  I am surprised that Gina didn't hurt herself fooling with it.

Later in the evening, Gina and I were having a 24 (Season 2) marathon together.  There was a scene where Jack Bauer was being tortured with a saudering iron.  It made me think about the fan, that all it probably needed to work was a new cord and a little saudering.  I went out to the garage after Gina went to bed.  I unscrewed the bottom of the fan base and got busy with it.

It was very hot out there last night.  Sweat rolled off my bald dome and fell into my glasses.  It wasn't long before my clothes were drenched.  I got the new cord on, but had problems finding a good plug.  I had to sauder the end three or four times to get it right.  I am so not a handiman.

It was not a complicated task, but took me several attempts to do the job right. I turned the switch on and I heard a faint hum.  There's finally electricity - but no go.  I turned it off and decided that maybe it needed a little oil.  There's no telling how many decades it had not been in use.  A little oil here and a little there - like the Tin Woodsman - came to life

I love the sound of these old fans.  This one had a solid sound like an engine of a B-17 bomber. My mind was immediately taken back to our family trips to Columbia, SC.  Most of dad's siblings lived there and the Finlayson kids would have to scatter a little for a borrowed bed to sleep.  No matter who's house we ended up, there was always an old oscillating fan on a dresser, comforting us with a cool breeze on a hot night -  helping us to drift to sleep to the steady rhythmic sound that only an old oscillating fan motor could make.

When the fan finally started...my mind went immediately back to uncle Murdock's house on Duncan Street in Columbia.  I remember lying in a musty smelling room on one of his twin beds in his spare room.  The shadows and sounds of Murdock's house  were different than that of my bedroom home.  I remember focusing my attention on the fan - feeling the breeze brush against the sheets - and listening to it's soothing mechanized voice.  I listened until I fell asleep.

Last night I stood motionless in the garage enjoying the immediate fruit of my labor - the coolness and the soft hum of the old Westinghouse.  This is the sound of comfort.  My cool heaven.
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