I just stepped outside to get my morning paper (what can I say, old habits die hard), and I had occasion once again to thank Willis Carrier.

Although his name is not mentioned in the same breath as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla or Bill Gates, it should be.  At least for those of us who live in the South.  That's because in 1902 Carrier invented electric air conditioning.

It's one of those things we take for granted like running water, or flushable toilets. But before air conditioning became widely available in the 1950's, people tried to keep cool any way they could.

My father used to tell me stories about spending summers on my great aunt's ranch in West Texas.  At night he would sleep in his skivvies on the screened-in porch outside the house.  During the day they would hang wet sheets in the doorways in front of huge fans just to get some cool air in the room.  That's basically what an evaporative cooler is and it's still the kind of air conditioning used today in desert climates like Arizona.

It looks like it's going to be another typical summer in the Ark-La-Tex.  The hottest temperatures of the year arrive just in time for July 4th celebrations.  According to the Louisiana Radio Network, State Climatologist Barry Keim says there’s almost no chance of rain, and winds are pumping in high humidity levels from the Gulf of Mexico. Temperatures will be in the low to mid-90's with extremely high humidity.  Heat indices will be in the low-100's.

So as you take a break from your July 4th celebrations inside the coolness of your air conditioned home, take time to celebrate Willis Carrier and his ingenious invention. He was definitely one cool guy.

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