Palabras Pintorescas: Running toward the radiators

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By Editha Bartley

Eight degrees below zero is cold to colder, and hopefully by this time this is printed warmer weather will have returned. This cold is usually reserved for early January, not early December. Global warming not at its best, I’d say.

Speaking of global warming, I finally think I have figured out when it actually started. I was a junior at New Mexico Highlands University and living in Kennedy Hall, of course. Lisle Hosford was just named interim president of Highlands after Edward  Eyring was ousted, drug out of office by the law, no less. The usual January cold, chill had hit this area big time. And I had just received my first single lens reflex camera for Christmas. I was so surprised, shocked, to discover a pile, a huge stack of radiators stacked on the sidewalk in front of Kennedy Hall. Dr. Hosford decided to upgrade the heating system for our cold dorm, thankfully. An overnight snowstorm covered these radiators in deep snow. I couldn’t wait to get a picture, a slide of this incredible phenomenon! Oh, yes, I still have that slide and many more as I recorded history through the camera lens, so long ago.

I always thought there  should be a catchy title for that picture, but until now I couldn’t come up with one. Now my wild imagination kicks in ... that obviously was when global warming got started. It is Dr. Hosford’s fault.

A lot of us grew up with radiators, and I’ll bet most of the kids with cold, wet, snow encrusted mittens haven’t had the fun of thawing out next to a rattly-bang radiator, possibly puffing out some steam and some good heat. My grandmother knitted countless mittens (never gloves with fingers) for sweet brother Bill and me, and these wooly, scratchy “hand warmers” quickly soaked up the snow or anything else we came in contact with (which included grease if they were Bill’s mittens, and horse feed, sweet horse feed if they were mine).

So when our hands were almost frozen stiff, we’d head for the radiators in our living room. The sizzle and the steam our very wet mittens made was wonderful, to us at least. However, our mother didn’t see the wonder in stinking sweet-smelling and greasy gloves smelling up the whole house. She banned us and our treasures from the living room, and sometimes our mittens just mysteriously disappeared.

That never was a problem, however, because Grandma knitted them faster than a whole gang of us could ever wear them out.

She also knitted us sweaters (this was long before synthetic yarns were invented) so we had to suffer through years of itchy-scratchy events. We both knew we’d always get a new sweater for Christmas, and neither of us really appreciated her special gift. Obviously some of the greatest gifts are wasted on our youth. Now I do appreciate what she did for us, even it did scratch and itch.

I wonder if there is a real, live, working iron radiator left anywhere in Las Vegas. The Masonic Temple might have a few. I know that whole building was heated that way back in the 1950’s.

The radiators in our house were lost in our house fire, and they were not replaced. The era of furnaces fed by coal is long gone, and I don’t think many of us really miss feeding that fire.

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.