We were so excited! Our second home was a small ranch with living room that had a beautiful beamed Cathedral ceiling. Hold it, you have no idea where I starting with this saga. Sorry, the year is 1968 and I’m married with two children, a son ten and a daughter six. We had just purchased our second home on an half acre wooded lot in Westtown Pa. Paid an exorbitant twenty five thousand dollars for it. The house was built on a concrete slab and those who may have owned or are now living in one will identify with some of the built in troubles these homes can have. However it will be the weather and its’ associated misery that is the foundation for what I am about to reveal.
Good looks we all know can be deceiving. Our new home while being just drop dead gorgeous had absolutely no insulation in the walls and ceiling. To help you to visualize this, on the other side of that beautiful one inch paneled Cathedral ceiling was God’s glorious world. Cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The living room in summer became a repository for heat and humidity that made it uninhabitable for the human species. The Bedroom wing with hallways and bathroom did have regular height ceilings but they also experienced no insulation. Above the Bedroom wing was however an attic space that was accessible by one of those pull down stairways in the hallway ceiling.
I need to pause here and explain an important fact of the male behavior. The easiest example probably is this, before Tim the “Tool Man” Taylor , there was Nelson the “Idiot“ Schroeder. Before and after this Schroeder “idiot“ are the multitude thousands of men who have thrown sound judgment and caution to the four winds to do battle with life. In this battle sometimes the man wins and sometimes the man loses and on some occasions the man dies in the fray. It’s in our DNA. We must be perceived as winners and the ultimate providers.
Back to the house and the attic. At the top of the pull down stairs is where the trouble lurks. The space above the bedroom wing is some twenty five feet wide and the length is close to thirty five feet long with no flooring. Only two by ten rafters on twelve inch centers with no insulation was available to walk on. At one end of the Attic is a shared wall with the Cathedral ceiling living room which my children have now dubbed the sauna. Thirty five feet away is the other wall with a two foot square vent to the outside. Focusing my laser sharp mind on the two end walls I see the solution. If I placed a louvered vent that opened by air flow in the living room wall at its peak, it will not only fit well but will allow the humid air from the living room to be evacuated . The key would be to install a large enough exhaust fan in the vented wall that would pull enough air to operate the vent louvers in the far wall and have enough extra strength to pull air from the far reaches of the house.
Seems simple to me. I go to a Hardware store and buy a large thirty six inch square vent with movable louvers for the living room wall. After installation and trimming I look at it and declare, “Man I’m Good”. Next to the far wall for the fan installation. At the same store I purchased a huge forty two inch three speed fan with a 3/4 horse power motor. The Mother of all Air Movers. This sucker can move some serious air. I open up the outside wall to the correct size and run the proper wiring and a special wall switch from the hall way to the wall where the fan will be installed. I getting a rather big head now. I’m thinking this project is bound to put me in the Schroeder Family Hall of Fame.
You need a little more information to appreciate this Herculean effort. The attic has no floor, only 2 x 10 rafters 12 inches apart. The height from the top of the rafters to the Ridge Beam is a little under 5 foot 10 inches. For the record at that time I was six foot two inches, (today I’ve shrunk to six foot) so I had to either bend my knees or my back to do any work. The forty two inch fan and Motor weighed somewhere around the Sixty pound range. I wrestled the fan up the stairs and over the rafters to the opening. I found that because of my height the leverage was not there with my bending to put the fan into the space I created in the wall. I’m now very hot, sweaty, and frustrated. A bad combination for any man on a mission. I test the space between the rafters and it feels solid. This one move will now let me gain ten more inches of leverage.
I am sure most of you have some knowledge of Isaac Newton and his three laws of Motion. Let’s say that the ignorance of Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws does not make them any less valid.
Newton’s Third Law:
For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.
That law took effect the moment I lifted the forty two inch fan putting an force coupled with my body weight of two hundred pounds as the beginning decent of my body through the ceiling .
Newton’s Second Law:
Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass (of the object being accelerated) the greater the amount of force needed (to accelerate the object).
This law was enhanced by the sixty pound Fan which was acting not unlike an NASA Booster Rocket, only in reverse, propelling me downward.
Newton’s First Law:
……………. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
As I was accelerating down through the ceiling this Law was abo………… Rewind just a second back to where I first tested the strength of the ceiling. What I forgot to make clear was I had placed each of my feet on different sides of the two by ten rafter to spread my weight over a wider area. Does this gives a sharper image of what the First Law of Newton will mean to me as I am hurling downward? I titled this article “Ride Em Cowboy” which is the position I assumed on the rafter when my decent abruptly stopped. And the end of my decent was very sudden to say the least.
I’ve told this story many times and with the same reaction. The Ladies will laugh uncontrollably. In fact one time at a Dinner party one female laughed so long and hard that she puddled the chair she sat on. Men will have the opposite response. Their cheek bones get tight while the eyes start to squint and an odd internal feeling in the lower part of their torso develops.
I’m in serve pain but I manage to right myself and get back up to the top of the rafters and crawl over to the stairway and make it back down to the hallway. Gathering those internal resources to show the world I was cool with my incident, I stiffen my upper lip and go to the bedroom to survey the damage. The hole through the ceiling was directly over my sons bed. Looking around the room I see my son sitting on his dresser a full twelve feet away from the bed starring at the gaping hole in the ceiling. It seems that he was standing on his bed with his sisters Field Hockey Stick doing an “Air Guitar’ rendition of a song he was listening to on his radio when the heavens opened and my size twelves came into his view. He doesn’t know how he got to the top of the dresser, he just got there.
I snap him out his trance and asked him, “You okay son”. He responds ” I’m okay Dad, Wow that was awesome. Are you okay.” “Thank you for asking, I’m fine. However if you harbor any hopes of having any more Brothers and Sisters, you can cancel them”.I'm a 74 year old man who loves this new medium of Blogging. I am also an Senior Manager in Send Out Cards which gives me a superior method of relating to the world through Greeting Cards. I have met and enjoyed wonderful friends who support me and actually LIKE me which is very rewarding. My online presence is growing and if I can hang on to life I will reap the benefits of establishing a business that will comfort me when I get old. Mostly however I Blog about my life which for some strange reason is well received. Like most of us the future is scary and the remembrance of older days give a measure of comfort. So I continue to reveal the past with optimism that the future will some day be the comfort of somebody else.