A Retro Moment

I saw this DIY project on Pinterest the other day.  What a flood of memories it brought back!camping air cooler  The idea is simple — as all good ideas are.  Take a plastic tub with lid.  Cut a hole for air to enter and for air to leave.  Attach a fan and a plumbing elbow.  Put some ice, or even just some water into the tub, and voila, you have a camping cooler for your tent.  Simple.  It will aid a little in keeping your comfortable during the dog days… but more important it’s a reminder of the old days.

Which Old Day?

These old days….

Thermador_Car_Cooler air_cooler

I actually had one of these … back in the day… We had a 1966 VW Beetle and the auto supply store in Chicago called Warshawsky & Co. on Archer Avenue was just down the street from us.  That was back in the days before they changed their name to J.C. Whitney — a name change that came about because it was better in those days to have a more generic name, not so ethnic.  Anyway, there were no air conditioners in cars in our day.  And even if there were such a thing, the little 50-ish horsepower motor in a 1968 VW wouldn’t have had the power to drive one.  Heck, I remember downshifting going up Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania in the summer of ’67.  For that matter we made an entire trip from Chicago to New Jersey and back with a non-functioning starter!  We push-started the car every time we had to turn off the engine!

But I digress from my story….

These little gadgets slipped into an opened car window.  There was an arm that rested against the window to hold the air cooler in place, and a clip that slipped over the glass.  Once in place the passenger didn’t have much of a view, but they did get a heedful of wind blown onto them as air entered the tubular vortex, blew across some water in the tube and came out the other side ever so slightly cooled.

I’m sure you’ve seen these alongside the road on Southern rooftops.

I’m sure you’ve seen these alongside the road on Southern rooftops.

They didn’t last long.  Eventually air conditioning — the real kind — overtook the water cooler. But you still see water coolers mounted on housetops in the south.  It’s a more economical way (or at least it used to be) of making your Southern house a little more livable in the midst of the heat.  Of course it also made it more humid — the value of which always eluded me.  But times were what times were and there was a time when any respite from the sweltering heat was welcome.

So much for fond memories of days gone by.  I hadn’t thought of those window coolers in a long while and for that matter I had almost forgotten the name Warshawsky!  But hey, those were fun days.  We lived in Chicago for two years while I did my alternate service and our apartment was literally the cheapest place we could find as I was working (in 1968) for $1.98 an hour at one of the biggest hospitals in the Windy City.  My, how times have changed.

Y’all have a great day and stop by again tomorrow.  Who knows what I might be talking about then!



7 thoughts on “A Retro Moment

  1. WOW…you have just reminded me that I have been relegated to being a geezer!

    I love the bucket cooler idea…something new to me.

    I had a ’67 VW but never had anything like a fancy cooler on it. It was one of my favorite cars because you could push start it anywhere and if your gas filter clogged you could just poke a hole in it and it would get you to the nearest auto store to get a replacement.

    I also remember that it had no get up and go. Back when the freeway speed limit was 55 mph, I too would downshift, pedal to the floor…hoping I could get enough speed to merge with traffic…and the heaters that took so long to work that you were at your destination by the time you felt any warmth. The ventilation was so poor that your breath would fog up the windshield so you had to open your window even if it was freezing or raining…yes those were the good old days. You haven’t lived unless you owned an early VW.

    Those were the days when pretty much everyone knew how to tune up a car. VWs were so simple even the layperson could fix one…like me! Having never built one before, I rebuilt the engine in my VW when I was six months pregnant. I had a copy of the shop manual and the Idiot’s guide. I carefully laid each part in chronological order when I disassembled it. I remember reading about removing the rods and didn’t know what they were and called up my husband, asking, “What’s a rod?” He described it to me, I located the picture and found it and continued on. I was pleased as punch when I got it put back in and it started up perfectly! 😀 😀

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.


    1. Mrs P — don’t talk to me about VW heaters! We once made a trip from Ohio (Peg’s home state) to NJ with ourselves, a friend and her newborn. IT was in a ’68 VW and the heater paddle stuck in the FULL ON position. The conduit got so hot that the window scraper I had stored beneath the rear seat actually CHARRED and we were sweltering with a crying unhappy baby in the back seat for 600 miles. Oh dear. What a trip. And of course we had to return to OH in the same car. They might have taken time to heat up, but once the heater was working — it did a fabulous job!

      You’re better than I am. I had to take engine rebuilding courses when I worked for Detroit Diesel. After dropping a nut into the engine on the first course necessitating re-disassembling in a class that was tight for time. For the next 6 1-week courses they made me stand in the corner and not touch any parts. Of course I was being trained as a field rep — not as a technician — so I didn’t need to actually do the rebuilding but I’m such a klutz they wanted me no where near the bits and bobs that went inside. 🙂



  2. While in the USN in 1971 my room mate had a 63 VW and we went to London and Paris from Naples, Italy….on the way back, the battery quit getting power to the starter too. So we push started it all the way back from southern France, but heck it was like push 1-2-3 steps and the driver popped the clutch and it started. Those were the days!! That was the advantage of a “stick” and light weight car. LOL


    1. Norm, I’m so with you!

      And if you parked on a hill you didn’t even need to push. Our trip to NY/NJ was through Pennsylvania in the days when I-80 wasn’t finished yet so we had a good long way on 2 lane roads and hills…. we made sure to stop on a hill as often as possible and then we just hopped in, let the parking brake go and popped the clutch.

      Only problem, and I’m sure you remember it too, is that those beetle and the old Kombi vans had a tendency to catch fire alongside the highway. Saw way too many VW’s ablaze, but I still had about 5 or 6 in a row.



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