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Climax Solar-Water Heater

"When we first moved in, there weren't any utilities. We had to do it ourselves with either a wood stove for heating or a gasoline stove for cooking and coal oil lamps.  There was no gas, no electricity, no nothing, practically pioneering. The solar heater was up on the roof for heating water. There was nothing uncommon about it at all. I can't remember a house on the block that was built at the time or soon after that, that didn't have a solar heater on it. I don't think anybody would be thinking at the time about paying for heating water if they could get it from a solar heater.

"We were pretty well curtailed for expenses, I know that. Mother's inheritance only amounted to $20 a month. We had to pay for wood for the wood stove and gasoline for the cook stove.  The solar heater was so much more economical than buying wood or gasoline to heat water. And it was less work, too. It would take half an hour to get a wood stove warmed up, because it takes a lot of time to heat up a stove made of iron.  You can't boil water on a wood stove unless it's hot all the way through because the heat is going into the iron and not what you have on it, Besides, it got the kitchen awfully hot in the summertime. And what the heck, I didn't like to chop wood any better than anybody else did!

"Our solar heater was a square box affair and it had four tanks in it and it was covered by glass. It faced southwest, of course, just the direction the house was. It was our main supply of hot water. The pipes came down through the house from the heater, one went to the bathroom, and one went to the kitchen. There was no excess of plumbing.

"The type of day would mean how hot the water was or how quick it would heat. It usually didn't take long for those tanks to heat up. You see, each tank held maybe ten gallons. You'd be surprised how fast it heated up. I know that on an ordinary sunshiny day everybody in the house could take a bath and wouldn't have any trouble but you had to kind of time when everyone was going to take a bath, you know. By afternoon my mother and our housekeeper would have enough hot water for baths and by evening there'd be enough for us kids. We used to go barefoot all the time and then, you know, we had to take a bath every night, or else!

"Whether we had hot water the next morning depended on how much we used the night before. If we didn't use all the hot water up, it stayed fairly warm .. . warm enough to wash your hands and face. But I don't remember if it was hot enough to take a bath or not. The water was never quite hot enough to do the laundry where you wanted the very hot stuff though. It was hot enough for a small amount of washing, the things the women wore, but when we did the heavy washing, the stuff we kids wore, our overalls and that stuff, we always had to boil it on the stove. As far as washing your hands and face, bathing, and washing dishes, we never had any trouble at all. I can't remember any trouble.  You'd be surprised how much it would heat up even on a cloudy day. In the winter-time usually there was a couple of kettles, one anyway, sitting on top of the wood stove heating; they were used for dishes and a lot of things because the water in the solar heater never got as hot in the winter-time as it did in the summer-time.

"I know when I was walking down to school, Throop, walking down Colorado Street to Walnut Street and then down Fair Oaks, that's where Throop was, as
I remember, every house had a solar heater. We didn't think the solar heater was anything marvelous or revolutionary. Everybody had one. It was a thing
of the time."