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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau

It's Hot

Children today have no idea what it is like to be hot. They have been blessed with air conditioning! The only time I have been able to get my grandchildren outside for any length of time is to go to the swimming pool or to eat dinner out on my porch every evening. The last two weeks with them visiting has reminded me a lot of my own childhood summers visiting my Southern grandparents in Virginia and South Carolina. It took several long days of car travel from central New York State to Virginia, and another full day of travel to South Carolina, all done in an un-air conditioned car. There was no air conditioning when we arrived either. In Virginia I had to share a double bed with my sister in a room that had one window and no cross ventilation. I don't think I ever had a good night's sleep there. Conditions were considerably better in South Carolina where we shared a room again, but had our own beds. That room had four large windows and very high ceilings. There was a central hallway with windows at each end, too. So there was almost always some sort of breeze at night. During the day my South Carolina grandfather always had an electric fan running in his room, a huge oscillating one. I remember sitting or standing in front of it to cool down after playing and getting sweaty. I also remember, especially in South Carolina, that there was always a container of fresh cold water in the kitchen refrigerator, a glass of which greatly helped to cool us down. That house also had a huge covered wrap around porch with lots of chairs and a wonderful swing. There were tall trees in the yard that also kept the porch shaded for most of the day. It was definitely the preferred gathering place for young and old alike on those hot summer days. People talked about being hot, but that was an accepted state of being. In the early 50's movie theaters started to have air conditioning, advertised from the marquees by a blue banner that included a picture of a penguin. But I don't recall going to the movies during summer Southern vacations. At church there were oscillating fans hung along the side walls of the church and paper fans advertising a local funeral home for the congregation to use as needed during the service. Little girls' skirts were usually not all that long, and I can remember my sweaty legs sticking to the pews. But all of this was the norm. We didn't whine about it being too hot to go outside, like my grandchildren do. In fact, it was usually a bit cooler outside anyway. I am thankful for air conditioning today. But I am also thankful that I have those childhood experiences of being hot and sweaty more or less all the time. They are a vital part of the fabric of my summer childhood memories. (Today's picture is one that I captured last summer when it was also pretty hot. I have manipulated it with the iColorama app to have more of a painted look.)

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