August: Montgomery County
By Leigh Goldenberg, Marketing and PR Manager
I grew up in an 1860’s farmhouse, on top of a hill, just 10 miles north of Philadelphia in Montgomery County. While definitely suburbia, our particular subset of the neighborhood was historical enough to be subject to approval of a committee for changing paint colors and other home improvements. I would always brag that our house was one of the three oldest in the area (surely, this was verified at some point) and would report to friends that 150 years ago, all of Wyncote was the farmland belonging to our little yellow house with blue shutters.
Part of our house’s historically authentic charm was its lack of central air conditioning. This made the summers especially unbearable. I slept with the newly installed ceiling fan at full speed and a collection of smaller fans placed strategically to surround me, pointing at my head, torso, and feet. (My parents have since caved and installed two window units. They and their two dogs reap the benefits of cooled air my brother and I missed out on.)
The tree lined street was also prone to power outages galore. In the winter, the ice weighed down the trees above the power lines, and we’d end up spending nights at friends’ houses or the nursing home my father ran. These outages were unpleasant, especially when, on one January birthday, I’d left my poor goldfish behind, and wondered if their water would freeze.
But summer power outages created a different kind of excitement. When an August thunderstorm would roll through, and an ancient branch would fall to knock out our power, we’d emerge from our house and venture past our porch. While families filled the homes on our block, we weren’t particularly social neighbors. My only real memories of everyone playing together were on these darkened summer nights. We all had our own flashlights, guiding our adventure to parts of the hill different from our usual haunts.
I remember thinking how much I loved those nights because of what was forgotten: neighborhood squabbles and alliances, what to watch on TV, the rising heat in our house. Once I even exclaimed to my mom: “I love blackouts! Everyone is so much nicer!” I’d then silently hope the power wouldn’t turn back on. That we could stay up later on the street that felt so alive, safe, and united.
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