Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Breezy Days

The last couple of days it's been pretty cool outside, so I've had the windows open. Seeing the curtains blowing in the breeze reminds me so much of when I was little and would spend time at my grandparents' house.

Back then air conditioning was a luxury and very few people had it. To stay cool throughout the summer, people would have the windows open all the time and hope that there was a breeze. My grandparents didn't have AC, and neither did we at our house. On a breezy day, the wind would blow so hard that occasionally the curtains would become almost parallel to the floor. I remember just loving that feeling.

Seeing our bedroom curtains blowing like that the other day took me back to that simpler time. I was reminded yet again of the pleasures of youth, when the biggest problem I faced was which outside toy was I going to play with first that day.

When we moved into our first house back in 1983 (we'd lived in an apartment for a few years after getting married) we didn't have air conditioning. Our front porch faced east, so it got the morning sun. By noon it was shaded, and the evenings sitting on the porch to cool off were so pleasant. A few other neighbors would be outside too, enjoying the evening breeze. One by one, we got AC and fewer and fewer people would be spending time on their porches.

However our next door neighbors were not at all interested in having AC put in. They had a whole house fan and felt it kept their home cool enough AND they didn't like AC. In fact, Dr. H had been the county school superintendent and flatly refused to have air conditioning in his office. Their office was in an old house a few blocks from the town square and room air conditioners were purchased to be installed in the various rooms.

Dr. H's unit sat in the box in his office. He would open the windows and be perfectly content. He once told us that by NOT having AC people didn't like spending time in his office. He chuckled as he told us that it was the best way for his "visitors" to come in, say what they needed to say, and go on their way. In fact, he told us that he just used the box that the unit was in as another piece of furniture.

I would occasionally tease him during a real hot spell and ask him if he was warm enough the night before. Our neighborhood consisted of older two story houses, and the upstairs of these houses were notorious for getting really hot since heat rises.

No matter what, he would make a point of telling me that he had to get up during the night to close the window because it got so cold. We'd always laugh about that.

Mrs. H just went right along with whatever Dr. H wanted...she was not hard to please at all. She was also involved in education, being the librarian for a nearby school district until her retirement.

I always enjoyed sitting outside on the front porch, enjoying seeing what was going on throughout the neighborhood, watching the kids, saying hello to people as they walked by. I think the evolvement of affordable whole house air conditioning has taken a little bit of Americana away.

2 comments:

Jen said...

We get too many bugs here to keep the windows open. Even with screens, they wiggle in if the windows are open.

Paulie said...

Not just air conditioning BUT electronics has taken the world inside now a days --kids don't play n the neighborhood any longer and build forts and use their imaginations to entertain themselves. I am glad I grew up when I did even tho summers meant a lot of working in the garden.