Before Air Conditioning

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, we did not have air conditioning. I remember being hot, but I do not ever recall suffering from the heat. We got sunburned of course, but I only remember the things we did to escape or ignore the heat.
We rode our bikes to the local swim pool and whiled away the afternoons, jumping into the water, having a great time, and then crawling onto the hot cement to bask in the sun. I remember high stepping on the hot cement until I could get to my flip flops or lay on my towel.
As we dried and reheated, it was off to the water again always looking for a new challenge. Can I swim to the bottom? Can I perfect the cannonball or jackknife? What is the best way to splash back at my attackers?
Can I do a double flip off the low board and win the respect and admiration of all who might observe my daring spins? How about a back flip? Who cares abut the heat?
After swimming, we were always on the lookout for shade in the park. We found the best ways to stay cool. Each trip was a journey from shade tree to shade tree. When I had a dime, I would head to the Park concession stand and acquire a Push-up. This novelty treat was a tube filled with orange sherbet with a plunger at the bottom to push up the filling. I was in heaven and had no awareness of the heat while I had my treat.
The garden hose at home offered many forms of relief. A good long swig of cold water was a joy! And it was fun to see if we could sliver off a part of the water stream without blasting the water too deeply into our cheeks. Eventually, we learned to double the end of the hose on itself to restrict the flow of water. Not as fun but it was much safer.
Sprinklers were great fun as the attacking water drops always seemed ice cold no matter how hot it was outside. We would scream with laughter when anyone slipped on the wet grass or took an extra large dose of cold water when the hose was yanked into a new location.
At home, I know we had fans but I don’t remember these. At night, I do remember trying fall asleep when the air was stifling – even if a fan was on. My solution was to crawl under my bed with my pillow and lay on the cool tile floors. When that spot warmed up, I could simply scooch to one side or the other AND turn my pillow. When I turned the bottom side of the pillow up to my face it was so very comforting.
I remember being warm in school but we never started school until after Labor day and finished by Memorial day. I liked having the windows open.
It is nice for me that I am more able to recall all our solutions for escaping heat than any particular discomfort that I experienced.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Les on 2011/07/25 at 1:36 am

    Being out in the heat as a kid, and even as teenager never bothered me, Not like it takes a lot out of me now. I remember we had a black circular fan that sat in the middle of our living room. That along with open doors and windows was our respite from summers heat. One year dad bought a window fan. That added some relief. We left the doors open and windows up every night. Running throughh the sprinkler was our answer to today’s water parks. Now matter how hot it was, my friends and I would always be out playing baseball. Those were the days.

    Les Williams


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