Monday, July 18, 2011

What did we do before AC?

What did we all do before AC?  That shortened term for air conditioning, we all seem to have to have to survive these days.  Even with a cooler than usual start to the summer, which we felt entitled to rant about frequently, when a typical July heat spell erupts we are now complaining about having to turn on costly AC, but unwilling to go one more night with two fans running and finding little relief.  What did we do? 

We slept on screened in porches.  A family may have had one fan and it was used in the parents room if at all at night.  I remember being hot and restless as a kid but the days stretched on forever and the nights were star studded and short.  We slowed down even as kids and found the coolest and shadiest spots and did things that required little energy.  We were kids after all, and knew how to be lazy on long, hot summer days.

We went barefoot all summer long.  I had three pair of shoes to get me through the year.  A pair of tennis shoes and a pair of "good" shoes that the next year were converted to school shoes.  A long summer of virtually no shoes, always meant a painful August Sunday in church with shoes that hurt my feet so much I would kick them off as soon as we sat down.  Of course, now there are all kinds of "things" that kids can step on and contract from the ground so even in water, quite often some kind of footwear is worn.  That's kind of sad, just as so many things we thought normal in the "old days" are now taboo.  We miss something if we totally ignore the past, in favor of progess.  Things are constantly changing but there is something to be said for the way things were.  Some values need to be kept up generation to generation....

We attended a family reunion yesterday.  My grandparents had held a big Laurenz family Christmas Eve get together for as long as I could remember.  After Grandma passed away suddenly in March, 15 years ago now, those were discontinued until after Grandpa followed Grandma to heaven.  Then the aunts, uncles and my parents decided they wanted to continue the tradition and so a Saturday before Christmas was set aside for us to get together.  That evolved into going to the summer as some of the aunts and uncles felt it was easier to do this in the summer than in the winter.  And we progressed to the Hemlock Park for this gathering.  It took a few years for the date to become a good fit for most.  It is mostly for those of us who live close to make the trip but every year we pick up some of the younger generation who make it to see relatives that may not be around much longer.  For me, it is a chance to see cousins I will only see once a year and to catch up and promise to visit.  It is a chance to slow down and enjoy just visiting.  It is not long and involved, it just is.  It was hot this year under the pavilion, but there were trees and shade.  The kids ran and played and cooled off with buckets of ice soaked wash cloths, and the adults sat and talked and fanned themselves.  It is pretty much the way, reunions in Michigan have gone on for generations, and something I treasure more and more.

We came home and turned on the AC, it is what we do now and an agreement I made if the temps went over 92 and weren't a one day thing.  Likely, with more heat this week it will be on more than I want, but I hope I always realize there were times when we didn't know any better.....

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