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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What Did People Do Before Air Conditioning?




Please welcome guest blogger: Judy Teel author of Instructing an Heiress (filling in for Cynthia Cooke who is swamped with her promotion tour for Deadly Secrets, Loving Lies—send chocolate)

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but ours has been hotter than you-know-what. Even in Ohio, where we joyfully traipsed for a family reunion last week, the temperature reached 
105 °F…several times.

As I looked out the window and watched birds sitting on the fence panting, I deeply appreciated the wonderful invention of my species called air conditioning. I also wondered what people did before they had this marvelous technology and could it help me stay even cooler?

The hunt was on!

Idea #1:  Servants wielding palm fronds
Probably the oldest way to create a breeze and common among the wealthy and royal of the Egyptian and Roman cultures. Thinking this would also provide good exercise and hours of entertainment, what with all the flapping and such, I attempted to get the kids on board. I got death stares.



 (What are you smokin’ Mom?)


Idea #2: Have other people fetch ice from mountainous regions
If Roman Emperor Elagabalus thought this was a good idea, who was I to argue? Unfortunately, I now found myself left to my own devices after the palm frond incident. Being fresh out of mountains, anyway, I turned to the kitchen ice maker as an alternative. After about twelve trips to the freezer, I decided this was also a bad idea.

Idea #3: Sit on your porch and drink lemonade
This time I was sure I had a good one. Porch sitting was considered a status symbol in its time, according to the The Milwaukee Journal, July 20, 1966.  Its returning popularity has even inspired the creation of porch sitter unions throughout the USA (CBS news, Professional Porch Sitters Unite). A trendy status symbol sounded like a definite win-win to me. Until I remembered that we don’t have a porch.

  


Idea #4: Eat hot foods like they do in Latin America, India, and Thailand
After the first bite, I realized I was way too wimpy for this solution. Love the food, hate the pain.



 (It’s the sweat, baby.)



Frustrated in my search for an alternative cooling practice, I turned to the Internet. Maybe there were some good inventions out there that could contribute to my comfort.

Enter the air-conditioned jacket…
 
 

(Does this make me look fat?)


So, not gonna work.
 
Sometimes the method you know is the method that works. For me, that’s relaxing with a glass of iced tea in air conditioned comfort while reading a good book.

What’s your favorite way to stay cool down on a hot day?


Judy Teel 


 

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34 comments:

  1. Being in Australia where it's currently winter I guarantee you I don't have a problem getting cold, you could use my feet as ice blocks. However, that's not what you wanted to know.

    When I was young, in the dark ages, we'd open the windows and spray the curtains with water. Repeat as often as necessary. I don't recall if it worked but it kept us amused.

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    1. LOL -- that does sound like fun! Enjoy the winter and yes, I'm envious. :-)

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  2. Hi Judy, thanks for stopping by Lady Scribes! I live in Texas, and by July I ask myself this same question every year. The only answer I can add is that they lived in the ol' swimmin' hole. Or, if they were well-off--move to someplace cool for the summer. Wish I could do both right now!

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    1. I'm glad to be here, Lily! I'm with you on wanting to be a snowbird. Canada sounds pretty good to me these days.

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  3. Hi, Judy!
    We actually don't have central air at our house, but we are getting it. Usually it's not too bad in our house because we are surrounded by large shade trees, but last week was horrible. To stay cool we did several things. We went to the cinema, because they have air! We spent time in the basement or in our bedrooms where we have window units. And my daughter and I turned on the sprinkler and laid in the hammock with the water sprinkling us.

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    1. Congratulations on getting central air. And in the nick of time too. I keep thinking that if early July is this bad, what will August do to us? Going to the movies is a number one choice for us, too. Entertainment, popcorn, and air conditioning. What's not to like?

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  4. Thanks for joining us today, Judy. As a Texan, I have a very keen appreciation for air conditioning. :) My Mom always tells us about summers when she was a kid, when they'd go to her uncle's ranch house. Apparently, they slept on a screened-in porch. Not quite the porch sitting you described, but similar. LOL. But me? I don't do non-air conditioned buildings if I can avoid it. If the AC goes out, you can bet I'm gonna be camping on someone's couch or getting a hotel room until such time as the repairman can come.

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    1. Thanks, Catherine. I'm really glad to be here. Everyone is so gracious at Lady Scribes! I'm with you about a hotel or friend's house. I can't sleep if the temp goes above 78 degrees.

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  5. Hi Judy!
    Thanks for stopping by LadyScribes today! As we were talking on an earlier post, Alaska is looking better and better!! ;)

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    1. Alaska does sound good this time of year. Would hate the winters, though. Can't say the same for the kids, though. They always lament the lack of snow around here.

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  6. My solution for everything is eat ice cream. Only problem is it is too hot to walk off the extra calories. However, an alternative since we have a Pelican's near our home is to eat Snowcones.

    I instituted a Friday ice cream day with the kids if they 'behaved' in school. (Behave is a relative term in my house. If they've not maimed someone and done their homework we are good.) During the summer, this has morphed into we get snowcones after lunch. Usually they stick to the tried and true half strawberry and half blue raspberry. I mix it up. This past friday I went for half birthday cake / half wedding cake. Loved the wedding cake flavor.

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    1. Snow cones -- Yum! It's been so long since I enjoyed one of those, I didn't even know they'd progressed past blueberry and strawberry! I'm going to have to check that out.

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  7. Nothing but the lake for me! My hubby and I are water rats through and through, and whenever the heat becomes oppressive, its to the water we g :-)
    Its lovely to have you here with us today, Judy - thanks for joining us!

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    1. Hi Erin!! A lake sounds perfect. And thank you for making me feel so welcome. You all are a great group!

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  8. So glad to see you at LadyScribes, Judy!

    I saw a piece on the news about those air-conditioned clothes and how they had become popular in Japan after the tsumai and earthquake tragedies over there, because of the power shortages.

    If I didn't have air conditioning I'd live by a lake and spend the hot days floating...

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    1. Thank you, Deb! Always a pleasure.

      You're absolutely right about the air conditioned jackets being invented in Japan. They also have a cooling foam thing going on that I decided not to include in the article. You spray in on and it has tingling, cooling action. Not as sexy as the jackets, though. ;-)

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  9. Hi Judy -

    I'm one of those rare people who love hot weather and can't stand being cold. In my defense I grew up in up-state New York. Think lots of snow, ice and very cold weather - that lasts for a long, long time!

    To put it mildly I HATE cold weather. I hate it so much that I went to college in Arizona and then moved to Florida. Did I mention this was the 1960's and I didn't have air-conditioning in either apartment? I LOVED IT!

    I was warm and happy until the day I met my husband-to-be. He was in the Navy stationed at NAS Cecil Field and that fateful day was in May 1969. We married the next February and OH NO! He got us an apartment with an air-conditioner. See me putting on a sweater and not taking it off in the apartment! Then in 1971 when he was released he took me "home" to Rhode Island! NO, NO! MORE WINTER COLD, MORE SNOW, MORE ICE!

    This year we celebrated our 42nd anniversary and we're still in Rhode Island. I still love my husband BUT I STILL HATE THE COLD!

    Give me hot an sunny any day! If you know anyone who wants an air conditioner just let me know - we have THREE I'm trying to have disappear!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Sorry, Jeanne, I accidentally deleted my own comment. This time of year I work with many "helpers" around the house and I get easily distracted. Or maybe I just need more coffee.

      If we hear that there was an accident with a hammer at your house and the air conditioners didn't make it, we'll keep our mouths shut. :-)

      Stay warm!

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    3. Judy -

      With my luck my husband would have a McGyver moment and fix it with a piece of twine, a toothpick and a paperclip! I hate men that are handy!

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    4. LOL! I have one of those at home, too. I'm the proud owner (not!) of a 30-year old stove. My husband just keeps fixing the darn thing. If he wasn't so cute when he was doing his repair man routine....

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    5. Judy -

      If your husband would like a "helper" just let me know and I'll send him my wonderful husband who decided to "surprise" me and replace our old sink! Of course this means I have no sink, no water and to top the list no drain so I can't even use my dishwasher!

      He, of course, didn't have all the parts he needed so tomorrow will be Day 3 with not being able to wash dishes in the kitchen and trying to figure out what to serve for dinner each night and use the fewest dishes that I then have to wash in the bathroom sink!

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  10. Living in Georgia, I believe in iced tea and fans, in addition to AC. I grew up without AC and I don't wish to give it up in my advanced age.

    Http://www.pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm with you, Mary! I'm way too domesticated to give up those kinds of comforts.

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  11. Hi Judy! It's great to have you at Lady Scribes! We didn't have A/C in my house when I was growing up, but it never bothered me. We lived on the top of a hill and the breeze always seemed to cool the house. Now, I code out when something goes wrong with my A/C. With the temps so high this summer, I can't even stand the thought!

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    1. Hi Andris, Thank you!

      Living on top of a hill sounds awesome. Were you in the country or city? What could you see from your house?

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  12. Judy ~ What did people do before air conditioning...? They melted and they were grumpy and lived shorter lives. ;) My son always asks me how I could have possibly grown up in Houston. Umm... because I lived in AIR CONDITIONED Houston.

    I do think about those rough and tough ancestors I have who settled Texas in the early 1800s. How did they do it? They had to just be tougher than the average person. They're certainly tougher than me. ;)

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    1. Me too. And the women did it in petticoats, long dresses and corsets. I would have died just from that!

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  13. Welcome to Lady Scribes, Judy! I guess when you get used to something it doesn't feel as bad/hot?

    I'm from the South, so fans, parasols and iced teas held oh, so inconspicuously the inner wrist keeps a lady cool. ;)

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    1. I love it, Marquita! My family's southern, too, so I know what you mean. My mother and grandmother were very ladylike. The gene for that failed a bit with me, I'm afraid. Having brothers or just too much of a tomboy, either way, my mother despaired!

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  14. I remember my father telling me that, when they were little kids, their mother would wrap them in a wet towel just to cool them down on a hot day. I was pretty lucky, though, because we already had an AC when I was born, so I was able to enjoy the comforts of the cool breeze from an AC on the hotter days. Anyway, drinking iced tea in an air conditioned room does sound relaxing to me.

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    1. That's actually a nice idea, Mechteld. I think it's pretty refreshing and it's really cute to see playful kids wrapped up in towels, but my top choice is idea number 3! Haha! Enjoying the cool breeze on the porch and talking all day while drinking lemonade never gets old! It's as refreshing as ever!

      Darryl Iorio

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  15. Weather wasn't as unpredictable and wild before compared today, so I guess the need for air conditioning isn't as in demand then. Before, their way of cooling down was going to the beach and swim or they just get ice then put it in front of an electric fan for cooler air.

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