Before air conditioning

Published 3:02 pm Friday, August 3, 2018

It’s the middle of the summer and many days the temperature may approach the century mark. It’s hot, but this is Georgia. What would you expect?

There is a statement that is made, though, that goes something like this: “I don’t believe it was this hot when I was younger.” I asked my computer, is it hotter than it used to be? My computer said that it didn’t know because it’s not as old as I am. One can ask a computer anything and get lots of answers. Most of them are too hard to understand and there is no answer like “Yes” or “No.” That’s all I wanted to know. “Yes” or “No.” I decided that it’s not hotter than it used to be; it just seems like it.

When I go outside now and the heat is stifling, I look at my smartphone to see the temp. If it says something like 92 degrees, I think, I remember working in the fields when it was hotter than that. Ever heard, “It’s ninety degrees in the shade?” Air conditioning has made all the difference in our capacities to endure the heat of the summer. As I have mentioned before, I grew up in one of those big, wooden farmhouses and it had so many holes in it, one might say it was naturally air conditioned.

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That house had very high ceilings and many large trees around it to provide shade from the sun. I was young and never even thought about the temperature in the house. What could I have done about it anyway?

There was a front porch that was used during the middle of the day if a quick nap during lunch was needed. A breeze seemed to always be present and there was no problem catching a few winks. At night, we’d open the windows. Thankfully no snakes came in from the heat. Except one time! The new house that my parents built in 1963 was different. It was a brick house and was not as “holey,” if you know what I mean. It was all electric but still did not have air conditioning. At night, before we went to bed, daddy would turn on what was known as the attic fan and, with the windows open, it could get quite chilly just using that loud and powerful attic fan.

It would be years later, after my brother and I had left home for college, before central heating and air conditioning would be added to the home. It is almost unbelievable these day to think that we lived so comfortably without air conditioning. At least we thought we were comfortable.It was the same with cars. Very few cars had air conditioning back then and, if they did, they were big and cumbersome units that usually stuck out like sore thumbs in the dashboard of the car. Most of the time everyone drove around with the windows down. Nowadays, can you imagine what it would be like to have a car or truck without air conditioning? Many people, when they get into a car, the first thing they do after starting the engine is to crank up the “AC” full bore! I started with a question. “Is it hotter today than it used to be?” The answer is not really. It might be a degree hotter than it was a century ago, but when we walk outside or when I was working in those fields as a youngster, I don’t think I would feel the difference between 95 degrees and 96 degrees.

The difference is that we have all become so accustomed to air conditioning. And I’m glad to have it!