Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Monday, April 27, 2009

How Did They Live Without Airconditioning?

You know in the days before electricity our ancestors lived without air conditioning. My Grandparent's farm did not have electricity at all until the 1950s and even then it was only for lights. So how did they do it? Most of us nowadays cannot imagine summertime with no AC. Well, by remembering my grandparents routines and how we have managed to cut it out for all but 2 months out of the year I may have an answer. The key is in scheduling your daily routine and chores around the heat. My grandfather was an early riser. He ate breakfast before daylight and at daybreak he was in the barn or in the field. There he stayed until dinnertime (lunch for those living outside of the south). He came in ate dinner and laid down for a 2 hour nap, everyone did. Even any hired hands found a good shade tree to take a snooze under. This served two purposes according to my grandfather; one was to let his food digest because dinnertime was the biggest meal of the day and two was to pass away the hottest part of the day staying as cool as possible. I also remember that my grandparents' house was loaded with windows and during the summer every window was open. The screened in porch ran the length of one side of the house (the eastern side) and those doors were left open in the summer. Essentially homes were built for natural air conditioning and designed to catch cross breezes. After my grandfather's nap everyone returned to their duties and the men went back into the fields. Grandaddy worked until sundown and then he came in to supper which usually was a light meal or leftovers from dinner. Living in harmony with the hot days of summer and coordinating their lives with the extremes of the day's temperatures. It also meant that they took life slower and there were no rat races to be run. For the past couple of years our family has been trying to cut down and cut out our AC. It is not easy and at times just downright miserable. However, each year we have turned it on later and then turned it back off earlier. Last year it did not get turned on until July 4th weekend and was turned off the first week of September. This year we wonder how long we can go without it and still live comfortably. It helps to have ceiling fans in the house, but we only have them in a couple of the rooms. We seem to be falling into the old pattern of life, like my grandparents did. We eat early, get outside chores done early while it is still cool and after lunch take a nap or at least lay down in the coolest part of the house. It is a good time for reading, talking, resting, and other quiet pursuits. Then we are back to more intensive chores after our rest and the hottest part of the day has passed. So how did they live without AC? The answer is simple. They simply lived in harmony and coordinated their lives with nature instead of trying to work against God's creation they took the time to go with the flow. We will see how long we can go this year, our goal is July 15th before turning it on. Just one more item to become less dependent on.


Kate said...

I asked my grandmother when I was a little girl how they stayed cool in the heat of the summer. She told me, to stay cool at night, they soaked their sheets in water, wrung them out, and slept in them.
I find this post particularly interesting because my sons and I are doing a geography study on the deserts of Africa. The Meerkat does the same as you have suggested people use to do before AC in that they work in the morning once they have heated their bodies by the sun after a cold night in the Kalahari; then the Meerkat family work to gather food in the early part of the day only to retire for a siesta during the extreme heat of midday.

Kat said...

That is interesting about the sheets. I am not sure how I would feel sleeping on damp sheets, but I imagine it would be better than being hot. Since I wrote this post, I remembered the sleeping porches. Many homes in the past were built with a sleeping porch so people slept outside in hot weather. There are ways to cope if we are willing to look for them. Blessings.