News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

August 14, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: Egg-xperiment made the news on a hot day

Now that temperatures have moderated to the point that I can draw a deep breath without feeling faint, I've been looking back at other heat waves I have survived.

I vaguely remember 1936. I was a kid, so maybe I felt the heat less then. Or, maybe it was because Blackberry Creek ran at the foot of the hill next to our home and was constantly available for a refreshing swim. We had no air conditioning, of course, and the only other thing available as a cooler was a small electric fan (Mom had dibs) and an unending supply of lemonade.

I also remember a year — I cannot remember which — when No. 1 son and his boon companion came rushing into the house late one morning. I automatically reached for the Kool Aid, but their question was, “May we have an egg?” It seems that the man who came to read the gas meter had informed the boys, “It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk!”

I was game to further an interest in science, so handed over the egg. But, in an effort to keep the driveway free of an egg mess before my Best Friend drove in from work, I persuaded the boys that it would be wise to put down an aluminum cookie sheet first. The sheet would be heated from the bottom by the cement and the sun would heat the aluminum giving any ants interested in the egg, a hotfoot. Since the boys apparently planned to eat the egg, they preferred it antless and agreed that it would be the same as cooking it directly on the driveway.

I also persuaded them to wait for the heat of the day. In those days — before politics tinkered with the time zones — the hottest part of the afternoon usually came about two o’clock by which time the cookie sheet would be preheated and ready for action.

The magic hour finally arrived. The boys broke the eggshell and poured the contents onto the cookie sheet.

There was no sizzle, but I urged them to be patient.

I guess a reporter from the Terre Haute Star motored past about that time. I’m sure he wondered what a couple of boys were doing hunkered down beside a cookie sheet with a spatula in hand. At any rate, with the curiosity of a good reporter, he and his camera recorded the event and the experiment, complete with a picture of the boys, made the morning paper.

Those few minutes of fame were about the only thing to come of the scientific experiment. The egg never did cook enough to be edible. And, the boys’ comment? “That gas man didn’t know what he was talking about!”

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