Monday, July 09, 2012

Before air conditioning

I grew up before air conditioning.  Oh, it had been invented, but it wasn't common technology.  I seem to remember that Dad had installed an air conditioner in the house on Edwards Street when I was a tiny child, but he only used it when he had to work nights.  It was a window unit that rumbled in Dad's bedroom when he was sleeping during the day.

Not so the house on Airview.  We moved there when I was in the second grade (1962?) and it didn't have air conditioning at all.  It had a big old attic fan with nice windows and we learned to stay close to the windows at night.  Our car didn't have an air conditioner, and theft wasn't much of a problem.  I suppose that there were weeks when the windows stayed down on the car.  I do recall that Daddy put a wooden block inside the door of the back windows on the car, so the baby wouldn't fall out.  Child seats?  Surely you jest.  No one had yet dreamt of such a thing.  In 1964 Momma got a new car, a Ford Galaxy station wagon.  We didn't have A/C in the house, but we had it in the car.  Louisiana afternoons were spent underneath the pecan tree in the back yard, or in the bedroom near the window.  The attic fan made a breeze even when the air was still and the afternoons scorching.  Yeah, we had 100 degree days then too, but they didn't seem to bother us so  much. 

I recall, too, the first time I felt real air conditioning.  Momma was in the A&P and I realized that my legs were cold.  Common attire in those days was blue jean shorts and a tee-shirt, barefoot from June until August, and I realized that I was chilled.  Shocked.  The whole store was air-conditioned.    Several years later (1971), I graduated from Bolton High School and the school wasn't air conditioned.  Hell, it was just barely heated. Cold in the winter and hot in the summer, the school had huge box fans in the hallways to move the warm air.  It was something I guess.

Dad didn't install air conditioning in the house until I went in the Army in 1973.  I came home on leave and noticed that the house was cool.  "When did you do that, Pop?" 

"Shortly after you left, son."

"Thanks, Pop."

What we're having here isn't global warming, folks.  What we're having here is summer.  It gets hot in the summertime.  It has been getting hot for a long time in Louisiana.


Old NFO said...

LOL, same here, same story in Jena, and up in Texarkana, I never had air-conditioning till I was in the military... :-)

MSgt B said...

Wow. I had completely forgotten about that old attic fan. Must have been 1969? 70?

Now I'm old, fat and spoiled. When the A/C goes out, I just roll over and die.

Oldlurker said...

Thanks for the memories Pawpaw. I grew up in Jax FL during the 50s but we never had an attic fan. Every spring Dad would climb up on the roof and lay a sprinkler hose along the roof peak. Worked just fine. Same for summer vacations in his '55 Ford stationwagon - we stopped every 30 minutes to hose down the roof.Kids nowadays just don't understand Granny's old adage - "Son, don't stand in the sun if ya got shade!"