The News Journal from Wilmington, Delaware on July 23, 1991 · Page 33
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The News Journal from Wilmington, Delaware · Page 33

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Wilmington, Delaware
Issue Date:
Tuesday, July 23, 1991
Page:
Page 33
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The News Journal, Wilmington, Del. Tuesday, July 23, 1991 Section I FAMILY & EDUCATION TELEVISION MOV I E S C 0 M I C S ROLAND WRIGHT Air conditioning: How did we ever cope without it? If man's greatest invention is the 'wheel, surely air conditioning must be the second greatest. , Yet I can't even name its inventor, because this is one of those marvels of science that owes its development to a lot of people instead of a single Thomas Edison or Samuel F.B. Morse. But bless them lall, wherever they are. In this hottest of summers, I have rarely ventured far from the won-Iders of air conditioning, except for a few hours on a beach, several outdoor interludes laboring over the lawn and the hedges, and the time spent walking between home and 'auto. How I and the rest of humanity lived without air conditioning for so many years, indeed centuries, J can now scarcely imagine. Those stalwarts who brag that "I haven't even turned mine on this year" or "I've only used it once this summer" mystify me . . . unless, perhaps, they are wary of the next electric bill. My biggest ones come during the air-cooling season. When No. 2 daughter, whose car air conditioner picked the worst of times to break down, insists, "No problem I just open the windows," I marvel at her endurance. I Yet for years I endured. Everyone xlid. Electric fans of every shape churned in every other room at home then, and also in the workplace, tossing papers hither and yon. In the neighborhood of my . youth, on a summer's night, elderly folks rocked on their front porches .waving cardboard fans, fans that usually bore the advertising imprint of a local undertaker. These fans ere more successful, in retrospect, as advertising devices than as cooling instruments. In that era the only air conditioning I knew about was at the neighborhood movie theaters, and people ;went there to escape the heat. Although the World Book encyclopedia assures me that air conditioning of American homes and apartments began in the 1930s, that certainly wasn't the case in my neighborhood. And although the first air-conditioned car is said to have been a 1939 Packard, I didn't experience such a luxury until the 1970s. ' I remember that on sultry nights in my childhood, my parents and I 'sometimes drove to a hilltop in a ;nearby park to escape the discomfort; and my grandfather on occasion slept on the back porch, pretending it was cooler there. Perhaps during his time in the Navy decades earlier, he had dealt with the heat of the western Pacific by 'sleeping on deck. 3 I preferred the front porch, sometimes sitting there into the wee hours until the worst of a summer evening's heat had faded. As a child in that era, I bought flavored ices from a passing truck, stood under a hose that dispensed cooling water !in the back yard, and listened to my elders lamenting repeatedly that "it's not the heat it's the humidity." They always spoke those words as if it were a new discovery '.on their part, and not merely a fact :of life. A father's legacy Today my wife and I are indebted !for our house's central air conditioning to my father a man who "never owned even a room air conditioner himself and who, when personally subjected to an air-cooled room, generally asked that it be turned off. When he died two decides ago, we used his small bequest to buy a new furnace and add central air. . It was one of the better purchases of a lifetime, even if it broke down a few weeks later when I happened to be home on vacation, with our ' then preschool-age children, during a blistering week. Since the cool air " must use the same ducts as our heating system, under the laws of physics such a system isn't perfect. ' But it sure beats perspiration. - Fortunately, in this year of unre-Tlenting heat, our home air conditioning has performed nobly. I know from experience that if it fails us, such a catastrophe will happen only on a weekend when overtime rates prevail. Once the same thing happened on the Fourth of July. But after some of this summer's 'soggy scorchers, I suppose I would pay a premium price for the privilege of remaining comfortable. : Roland Wright is a News Journal editor. i a-. i ii. f S Z a' 1- -r-set Iff' 1 Gregory Smack, 18, of Bridgeville, tends to the Himalayan ride at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington. Smack works (or the James E. Strates Shows. THE RESTLESS LIFE OF A " (NBiHff WBWB 1 ' J i ' i , j "! . . . , v """ . 11 it i ,: , : t . i , . i '1 -... ;f V' . RALPH FRESO photo Ken Fowler, 51, has been with traveling shows lor 20 years, half of that time with the Strates shows. 1- 4 J7"i p .J A I . , raw 1 if 1 - - ... a , 1 1 Kathy O'Grady, 42, works the crowd at the bushelbasket booth at the state fair. Carnies also assemble and operate the rides. iiitoii.iAiliiT,Y., r . . . 1 I . f ; Frank Costello, 76, has guessed ages and weights for years. Johnnie Alexander Is a 3-year veteran. 0177 KC".. 5 i -J r 4 Donnie Cook, 37, runs a smash-the-can booth. They follow their jobs By DARIN POWELL Special to The News Journal HARRINGTON His real name is Jasper Bryant, but everyone calls him Shorty. And under the colored lights, in the control booth of the ride known as the Thunderbolt, ' Shorty is a king. "Do you want to go faster?" he shouts, addressing his subjects, the Thunderbolt's riders, through a microphone. "Yeah!" the riders shout back. "Are you sure?" Shorty teases them. The riders shout again. "I'm gonna make you scream!" he cries, and pushes a button that sends the Thunderbolt into what can only be called hyper-spin. As the blur of arms, heads and screams whizzes by the window of his tiny booth, Shorty leans back and smiles. "This is my home," he says. Shorty is a carny a person who has forsaken the routine security of a 9-to-5 job for life on the road with a traveling carnival. It is the carnies who assemble and operate the rides, work the games and do the hundreds of other tasks that keep carnivals like the James E. Strates Shows, playing the Delaware State Fair, in working order. Without them, there would be no cotton candy or high-speed thrills. Many of the Strates carnies have a family tradition of carnival work. Others ran away from home or from normal jobs, drawn by the bright lights and their own wanderlust. Some couldn't find steady jobs in any other field. The hours are long, and carnies spend a lot of time sweating in the sun. But most say they love what they do, and enjoy the opportunity See CARNY D4 So originality detectable in 'Veronica Clare' In these trying times, there's one great, burning question driving network programmers: If viewers don't like the stuff we produce now, what will they watch? This makes television executives cling to their market surveys and fine-tune their aim at the all-important target demographic and panic. So, it isn't any wonder that what the audience finally sees is a hodgepodge of rip-offs from the recently successful, remakes of the tried and true, or anything Two more Lifetime offerings D2 that's very, very cheap to produce. All the while, programmers are convincing themselves they're being brave and innovative, creating the "quirky," the "offbeat." or the "unconventional" kinds of shows that will sweep viewers TELEVISION Valerie Helmbreck off their feet and away from whatever is on elsewhere in the same time slot. You can just imagine how often this really happens. Lifetime, the "women's network," is no exception to this programming genius. Tonight the network launches its ambitious block of original programming. Lifetime Vice President Pat Fili said last week her network will spend $1 billion by the end of the decade on its own programming. But if Lifetime's one-hour dramatic show, "Veronica Clare" (airing at 10 p.m.) is any indication of how it plan to spend that money, network exec utives might want to consider throwing some gas and a match at the cash instead. For starters, nobody in Hollywood can seem to get over or beyond the fact that Raymond Chandler did detective stories Veronica Clare" has-more "P.I." 1 , I cliches than, well, Is -" I than you can shake a bmi.! at,, iiieies uie foreign guy named Otto who tells Veronica, "You know you have the tango in your eyes. I can see it in your heart." There's also the gum-chewing, nail-polishing secretary and a mysterious, dark-haired business partner. The title character is played by Laura Robinson, an actress better suited to car commercials where sultry blondes only j ROBINSON stroke gearshifts or hood ornaments an make animal sounds for their paycheck As Veronica, Robinson delivers bam narration like: "The trouble with histor is you can't make it alone" or "No on worth talking about is an open book." Excuse me while I switch to that QVi jewelry special. There are times when "Veronic Clare" with its Gershwin and Cole Poi ter music reminds you a bit of a Wood Allen movie but without the fine acting scripts, plots or jokes. The writers trie awfully hard to be clever, but when chai acters talk about "half a lifetime ago and "playing with fire" you can onl think, boy, is this stuff turgid. As Veronica muses at the outset, pet pie often lie just because they've a quired the habit. In the case of "Veror ica Clare," it's best just to acquire th habit of not watching.

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