As I write it is still hot outside. And I am so grateful for air conditioning; face it, I’m used to it just as you are. Every day seems to be hotter than the one before it and just going outside for a while makes me literally sick. Used not to do that—think it’s a thing called age and no tolerance for it anymore. But when I was little, there was no air conditioning unless one went to a show or certain restaurants that advertised “Cool Inside.”
How did I survive without air conditioning? I burned up like everyone else—that’s how. As a kid, I remember playing outside and burning up but still not affected by the heat. But come nights when I stayed with my grandparents was a different thing. They had a fan in one bedroom window and there were three bedrooms. And that upstairs was a hot as all get out despite that one fan for it did nothing but move hot air. My grandparents let me sleep with them and when my grandmother or I got restless, she would get up and take me first to the front bedroom: We’d lie on a bed near the window gasping for any cool air and found none. Next, it was off to the back bedroom to see if it were any cooler and guess what? It wasn’t. [My step-grandfather always slept right through that heat. Amazed me.]
By moving twice in the night, my grandmother and I were just plain worn out and finally slept. But it became a ritual when I stayed all night with them—the moving from one bedroom to another in hopes of a cooler room which never happened.
Worse was the bath I had to take at their house in a huge claw footed bathtub because the bathroom was in the hot upstairs. I remember that red bar of Lifebuoy soap in my hand and the sweat dripping off of my face in a constant flow. By the time I had gotten clean and dried, I was wet again with sweat. You just don’t forget something like that ever.
Things were the same at the apartment and later the house where I lived with my parents—hot and no air conditioning. Lots of times, we ate outside in the evening because being inside was like sitting in a tinder box. Of course that meant bugs and that horrible smell of a citronella candle to keep them away—it didn’t do much for anyone’s appetite to say the least. To this day I can’t stand the smell of citronella. So many people today say that they lived through no air conditioning and survived as did I. But trust me, it was something you just had to deal with and try to get cool by any means like sucking on ice cubes or spraying yourself outside with the garden hose or you name it! My grandmother used to get cotton balls and put rubbing alcohol on my legs and arms; it really did make me feel cooler for a while. I’m just grateful I didn’t live in the early 1900’s or earlier. Imagine wearing all those clothes that girls and women had to wear and the petticoats. No wonder people had fainting couches in their houses—people fainted all of the time from the heat or had vapor attacks.
I’ll take air conditioning anytime. Face it, we are all used to it even in our cars. Would you buy a car without air conditioning? Of course not nor a house without it. I’m thankful for it and have mine on right now plus two fans running to circulate the air. No citronella candles outside here for I can’t eat in the hot outside air and that smell is horrible. And no Lifebuoy soap for it dredges up memories of those hot baths in my grandparents big claw footed tub where the sweat outweighed the water.
Not into bedroom moving to see which one is the coolest and so thankful that I don’t have to do that as well. If you’ve done any of the above things as a kid, those memories never leave you. Today’s kids have no idea what it was like then and would throw a fit: I can see it now. Well we threw no fits. We just dealt with the heat as best we could and survived—sort of.