A cold blast to the past
Jesse Ritka reportsPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
GLENDALE - On hot days like today, many find relief indoors. But it doesn't take much to remember what it was like in the days without air conditioning, especially if the AC stops working.
"I've lived my life without an air conditioned house and I've lived it with, and it's much better with air conditioning, I can tell you that," Susan Westergard tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka.
That's why AC technician Steve Albright was such a welcome sight to Westergard on this temperature record breaking day.
"They're hot when we get there and hopefully cold when we leave," Albright explains as he gives Westergard's air conditioner a tune-up.
During these heat waves, the chilly whirl of a working air conditioner is one of the best ways to stay cool and safe. Westergard is thankful for her central air now, "It would be very difficult to live without it."
But a century ago, people did. July 17th, 2012 marks the 110th anniversary of the modern day air conditioner. The king of cool, Willis Carrier, invented it to keep machines, not mankind from overheating.
Many of the first units were used in candy factories like the George Ziegler Company. "Back in the turn of the century when things like the Ziegler Company were around, I don't know how they did that; imagine being an employee in a factory that's 150 degrees," says Mary Ziegler.
The Ziegler candy factory became the first building in Milwaukee to install an air conditioner in 19010. The chill from the clunky conditioner helped keep their candy and workers cool. "They're cooking in huge copper kettles. I can only imagine the heat that that would produce, and if you didn't have air conditioning, to even make the candy, much less store chocolates or marshmallows, I can't imagine, I just can't fathom it."
Thankfully Carrier's design was modified to help homes and humans get some king of relief from this kind of heat. "That's one of the things that's easy to take for granted, but it's actually quite a privilege to have central air conditioning," Westergard says.
According to Carrier, 87% of American households own an air conditioner.