Original Post 6/30/2012:
I started writing a response on Facebook to my husband's cousin, who asked the question, "How did people live here 100 years ago?"...speaking of the 97 degree temperatures here in Florida today. He is originally from New Jersey, and has not had to endure too many hot summers in Florida before I take it. Although, Florida is probably much cooler today than most of our northern and midwestern states! Anyway, as I started responding to his question on Facebook, I realized that I was writing much too long of a response for the comment space, and decided I should switch it to my blog instead. I will make sure that cousin John gets a copy of this response!
So here goes:
Although I didn't live here in Florida 100 years ago, I did live here prior to AC, and it was HOT. But we didn't know what AC was, so we just adapted. We had fans, and windows that opened wide, and mildewed shoes from the humidity. We dressed accordingly...for kids that was easy, shorts and halter tops and flip flops. We played outside all day and cooled down with a water hose...drank from it too, and didn't die from it. We went swimming in the lakes and local springs as often as possible, and didn't get eaten by alligators or bitten by snakes. We built forts in the woods and ran barefoot most of the time. We didn't have AC at school either, but we still survived and learned a lot of reading, writing and 'rithmetic. (sometimes to the tune of the "hickory stick"...or the teacher's ruler in my case). We did not stay indoors and play with video games or watch tv all day. That was forbidden! (didn't have video games, and TV wasn't that sophisticated yet).
|One of our campsites in the Smokey Mountains|
|Eating lunch at a roadside park on our vacation|
(I took this picture, so I wasn't in it. )
We cooked our food on a campfire or a Coleman stove, and swatted mosquitoes and watched out for bears. We didn't have McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy's, so we stopped at roadside parks and ate picnic lunches while traveling along the winding mountain roads. My mother could create the most delicious meals out of a cooler and with that Coleman stove. After eating our lunch we would often wade in a nearby mountain stream or creek, and look for interesting river rocks and stones to add to our rock collection. Finding places for all of our "souvenirs" in the car was sometimes a bit tricky, especially since there were six people crammed into a rather small car, but somehow we managed to bring our treasures home with us.
To this day I really don't know how all six of us managed to travel in those vehicles without air conditioning through the hottest months of the year, but we did it. We rode with the windows open and the wind blowing in our faces and our hair, and sometimes we even stuck our feet up in the window to cool them off! We played all kinds of road games to pass the time, like the "Alphabet Game", the Horse Game, where you counted horses on your side of the road, and got extra points for a horse farm, and lost your horses if there was a cemetery that the opposite side of the car team noticed on your side of the road before you could call your horses safe. We also ate homemade cookies that my mother had baked prior to the trip, and drank water from a thermos. I was the youngest, and also the one most prone to car-sickness in the mountains, so there were frequent emergency stops along the side of the road for me to "lose my cookies". Yuck.
On one most memorable trip we had stopped along the way and purchased a watermelon to eat later with our picnic lunch. We were hauling a small trailer on the back of our car with our camping gear and luggage. inside. It was mostly empty as we had planned to pick up some of our furniture that was being stored at my uncle's farm in Pennsylvania from our former home and take it back to Florida with us. So my dad put the watermelon in the trailer with the tents and luggage. Apparently it did not occur to him that the watermelon would do a lot of rolling around in the mostly empty trailer as we traveled over hill and dale through the mountains. When we stopped for lunch and opened the trailer to take out the watermelon for lunch, to our horror we discovered that the watermelon had broken open and had smashed itself all over our camping gear and our clothes! You can imagine what a sticky icky mess that was! Fortunately, we were near Columbia, S.C., and my father remembered that the parents of one of his old college buddies lived in that area. He went to a pay phone (no cell phones back then either), and looked up their name and number in the phonebook, and gave them a call. He told them who he was and about our dilemma, and these dear sweet people insisted that he bring us all right over to their home and they would take care of us! And take care of us they did! Talk about "Good Samaritans"! Not only did they take us in and wash our clothes and feed us, but they put us up for the night, and when we were ready to leave the next morning (after a huge southern style breakfast) they packed a cooler of food for us to take along for the day...fried chicken and all the trimmings! Can you imagine that? These people did not even know my Dad personally, but because he was a friend of their son from college (quite a few years prior), that was good enough for them. They went above and beyond the call of duty and cared for us so kindly...I've never ever forgotten that! I would hope that I would do the same if the situation ever arose...but I fear I've possibly missed some good opportunities to be such a "Good Samaritan" already. (See the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37)
|The Trolley Car DOWN the mountain from Ghost Mountain |
in the Sky...quite a trip!
|The chair lift UP to Ghost Mountain in the Sky,|
Maggie Valley, NC