Good morning. It seem as though the temperatures are predicting to begin their rise today here in the Chicago land area. It have been pleasant here for most adults who are not crazy about the stifling temperatures. Time where all the air conditioners will be turned back on.
Funny though, how time and things have changed. I often look back to when I was a child and we had no air conditioning. We were lucky to have had a fan back then. And I am not quite sure what the fan did? It seems as though it only blew around the hot air.
Growing up in Chicago...we lived in a 2 flat story home on the northwestern edge. The gangways between the houses were quite narrow and there wasn't much air that could circulate between the houses. Consequently, on a really hot day there were not a lot of options. I remember that we had a really odd looking fan. It was round and it sat on the floor I never really understood it's purpose unless you wet a washcloth with cold water and wrapped it around your neck and sat right in front of it to cool yourself.
Back then, we didn't have automatic ice makers where you could just go ad grab some ice at will, we had to use ice cube trays...oh, and they weren't the kind that you just grab and twist, they were metal and had this insert that had a handle and you had to pull up the handle and it would crack through the ice. You really could only fit 2...maybe 3 in the freezer at a time...and of course it took quite a while to freeze. On a hot summers day getting ice was a problem most of the time, especially if you had a lot of people living in the house.
I can remember on really hot summer nights, my bed was up against the window and I would put my pillow on the window as far as it would go and sleep at an angle to try to feel some breeze . When that wouldn't work, I would take blankets and the chaise lounge from the back yard and my pillow and set it up out on the front porch and sleep there. That seemed to be the best way to handle getting some air, but then you made sure you were up and off the porch early to avoid being seen. Later on we had a large pool and, as silly as this seems now, I would go into the pool, get wet, then try to rest on the large floating mattress. The movement didn't work very well, but the dipping in the pool did.
We eventually got an air conditioneer in 1968. But it only got tuned on if it was stifling. It sat in the kitchen, which meant only the kitchen got cooled. It didn't reach the bedrooms, and of course, the fear that it might overheat during the night and cause a fire, only meant it was not on for the night time and once again it was back to sleeping in the window sill.
I remember getting married and the first apartment we lived in was a 2 story, flat tar roof building in Chicago. We couldn't afford an air conditioner in the beginning and oh how hot the days could get up on the 2nd floor where we lived. Bu the worse was when I became pregnant. I had toxemia and was always miserable. I tried the same technique as I did as a child. Only this time I had to build up the pillows on both ends, one for my head on the window sill and under my feet for the severe swelling. Some nights, I just opened up the window and stuck my had out attempting to find some sort of air circulating. The next year, I was pregnant again...I abhor the heat. I remember being 8 months pregnant with an 11 month old baby. I used to carry her down the 2 flights of stairs, fill up the baby pool and sit in it with her all day long. I used to laugh with my neighbor over the fence that if my water would break, I wasn't really sure whether I would know it or not. Finally, after my 2nd child was born we were able to purchase a second hand air conditioner that only cooled one room. We choose the living room,
Mostly because we had a sleeper couch and we had French doors that closed it off from the rest of the house. That meant we could sleep on the pullout and have the baby in the bassinet and our 1 year old in the padded up playpen and get a good night's rest. I remember on July 2nd that year it was 104 degrees and we had our baby's Christening. She kept slipping all over the place in her long china silk Christening gown. But at least we had a place to be comfortable.
Our next home didn't have any air conditioning as well, and the old one we had gave out. We put up fans, but they don't really help. I used to wait until my husband would fall asleep and then go on the back porch and lay on the chaise lounge like I did as a child. He would wake up and go searching for me and then would go ballistic that I was outside sleeping. He grew up in a neighborhood that was very different than mine. He grew up in an area where often times you would fear for your life. I had no yardstick to measure that kind of fear , and needless to say, neither of us would listen to the other. I landed up coming back in the house to lay awake through the night to keep peace. Finally we got an air conditioner. We put it in the living room, only this time it kept the living room and dining room cool. I would tack up a sheet on the dining room door to ensure keeping the coolness in those rooms and to the maximum. The children and I spent the summer nights on couches or sleeping bags on the floor, while my husband still choose to sleep in the heat. He is one of those people who actually enjoy it. Not me, for sure.
When we finally moved into the home we now reside in..once again I am faced with radiators and no central air...NOW, I love the radiators...but I now put an air conditioner in almost every room. It is pretty nice, because I can turn them on or off depending on which part of the house is being utilized. At night the only one that needs to run is in the bedroom. I still use fans, whether portable or ceiling fans to now circulate the cool air. I have an automatic icemaker that makes ice continuously. I am so grateful for the technological changes, but every so often, nature will trip us up. I remember last year on the 2nd of July, we lost electric when a generator blew out in our neighborhood.
I had a red hat event at the house, we were just about finished with our project when the lights went out....I am used to lights going out here in this area and learned a lot from the Amish. I must have 15-20 kerosene laps that I am able to light. The ladies and I sat around the soft glow and chatted. The house was still cool so all was fine, but once they left....I started to worry about what we would do. Upon calling the electric company , we were informed that we might not have electricity for 48-72 hours. I wouldn't have worried as much at any other time, but we were hosting a large party on the 4th of July. I had freezers and refrigerators full of food.
A friend of ours lent us a generator...problem solved, so we thought. Well, neither my husband or I had any idea of how to use it. At first we attempted to put in in our enclosed back porch...it was too hot and began to cause a burn stain on the back door....we took it out. Attempting to figure out what to do next, the carbon monoxide detectors went off, which now caused me to have to open the windows....which now made what was at least a semi-cooled house hot and sticky. We finally figured out a way to get the machine hooked up through the back yard, all the extension cords to the refrigerators and freezer and one to the bedroom so that we could have air to sleep in. In the meantime, we sat out in the front on chairs to wait till the carbon monoxide cleared and I had the sprinklers turned-on and ran back and forth through the sprinklers to cool down. My husband just laughed at me. I am sure I was quite the site. This older woman acting as though she were a young child. When I look back at that moment now...I just chuckle to myself. No matter how much I change on the outside, I am still a little kid on the inside. And when the truth be told, I am glad that I am not afraid to show it....or I would be missing out on a lot of experiences and adventures.