The scene from The Andy Griffith Show, in black-and-white of course, is one you could have starred in at most any time this past Scorching Summer of 2023.
Two chairs on the wide sidewalk outside Floyd’s Barber Shop. Floyd sits in the one nearest his shop’s door, on the left of your TV screen. He is blank-faced and lazily working a wicker fan in front of his face. Up walks Sheriff Andy Taylor, who takes a seat and, as he crosses his legs, says, “Howdy, Floyd.”
Floyd, with no small amount of effort, the heat evident on a face that, even in black-and-white, is obviously ashen: “92.”
Andy: “It feels it.”
Floyd: “I just looked at the thermometer over the door (points his wicker fan that way). You know what it says?”
Floyd, slack-jawed and fanning, a folded newspaper, no doubt The Mayberry Gazette, resting on his lap under his other hand: “92. Like an oven. Hot! Ohhh … it’s HOT.”
Andy: “Well, like Mark Twain said, ‘Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.’”
Floyd, stops fanning and looks at Andy: “He say that?”
Floyd: “I thought Calvin Coolidge said that.”
Andy: “No. No Floyd. Calvin Coolidge didn’t say that.”
Floyd: “What’d Calvin Coolidge say?”
Andy: “I don’t know.”
Floyd, fanning again, then turning back to Andy: “You sure Mark Twain didn’t get that from Calvin Coolidge?”
Andy: “No Floyd. Mark Twain lived before Calvin Coolidge.”
Floyd, sitting up a bit and leaning toward Andy: “Oh … he COULDN’T have gotten it from him. NO … but it’s HOT.”
And so it went, all summer in Mayberry over in Carolina back in the early 1960s — and all summer here in North Louisiana.
Funny deal about the weather. It gets hot around here and few seem to remember that it is always hot in the summer here. Some are cooler than others, but they’re all hot.
Summer of 1982, I had the privilege of helping build the bypass in Camden, Arkansas. (It’s a heckuva bypass, if you’re ever up that way.) My job was to walk in front of the grader — the big tractor that has the smoothing blade — and knock the dirt off stakes, driven at equal heights, so the driver could see them and make the dirt level for the rebar and pavement that’s to come. There is not a lot of shade in roadwork, as there are few trees in the middle of roads. And it was more than 100 degrees 21 days straight.
That was — clears throat — 40 years ago.
It’s always been hot. Next summer, it’s going to be hot again. (Just a guess.)
But you’ve made it! Hold out ’til Saturday and you’ve made it to autumn!
This is being typed on an evening where the outside temperature is mid-70s as we head into October, and what a fine month it is. October might just be the best of all the months — if it didn’t mean cold weather was coming.
And then what will you and Andy and Floyd talk about? Probably the weather. And possibly, during an ice storm, wish for a day like one we complained about in July, wicker fan in hand.
At least that’s what Mark Twain said … or maybe it was Calvin Coolidge.
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