What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How We Survived the Summer BEFORE AC!

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. )
Our cars didn't have AC either, but we took vacation trips to the mountains to "cool off" and slept in tents on air mattresses that we had to blow up by mouth! 

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!
I guess I have "travelled" a bit away from the original subject of living in Florida prior to AC, but I think you get the picture.  It was such an idyllic time in our lives...I can think of no happier childhood than what I had, living here in Florida before AC.  I feel sorry for kids today who don't know the joy of playing outside all summer long, using their imaginations and playing in the sprinklers to keep cool or going to the local lakes or springs for a day of fun and swimming. We were especially blessed in that we were able to take camping trips up through the mountains...what we didn't realize at the time was that that was the only way our family could afford to travel to go visit our grandparents up north.  We could not have afforded to stay in motels and eat at restaurants the way people do today. And we didn't get to go to all the expensive "theme parks", although we DID have a fun time one summer at "Ghost Mountain in the Sky" in Maggie Valley, NC, I recall.  That was the closest thing to a "theme park" we had back then I guess. 

The chair lift UP to Ghost Mountain in the Sky,
Maggie Valley, NC

I have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane today. It kind of helped to "cool things off" a bit for me, how about you?

Truly, after watching the national news tonight, I am very sorry to see all of the severe hot weather around our nation, in addition to the extremely volatile forest fires out west.  I am particularly concerned about that because my youngest son Scott happens to be out there in Colorado right now.  He assures me that he is safe and on the opposite side of the city from the biggest fire right now...but I still worry.  I will be a very happy mother when I see him step off of that plane next week as he returns home.  Although his trip to seek work out there was unsuccessful, if he is able to escape this firestorm unscathed, that will be a huge success to me.  God will take care of the rest once he is safely back home, I am certain.

So, cousin John, yes, we did survive life here in Florida pre-AC, as our ancestors before us survived much greater hardships than high temperatures in the preceding century.  I fear that each generation gets a little bit softer and less resilient to the hardships of life because we just don't have to endure much discomfort anymore.  I wonder how future generations will survive when life gets really tough on planet earth in the years to come? I don't know, but I don't plan to be here that long!  I got a mansion just over the hilltop, where the temperature is always perfect, and we never to need to worry about AC, heat, freezes,  fires, or floods ever again! Woohoo!  That will be a wonderful day! Amen?  In the meantime, keep cool, my friends.


  1. Amen! Where did you get these pictures? I didn't even know they existed, but I sure do remember those times! I remember how brother Clifford bounced that lift from behind MJ and I--scared us to death!! You must have been riding with him!--Also, I got front seat ridership, since I was guaranteed to get car sick!! Remember the Sugar Daddy's?? A favorite traveling goodie!! Brings back good memories!!

    1. I took those pictures with my own little camera. I was in the chair lift with Daddy, and Cliff was behind us on his own, bouncing up and down so that we had to ride back down on the trolley while they fixed the cable on the chair lift! Yes, we have many happy happy memories from our trips and our summers together. We were so blessed to be raised in our family! Love ya, my little Big sister! :)

  2. Good Sunday Morning Pamela, today is my 2 year Blogoversary and I gave you a tiny mention! Thanks for being my friend and walking with me through some tough times! I appreciate you more than you know!

    1. Good Sunday Morning to you as well (afternoon here in FL), and Congratulations for making it to your 2 year Blogoversary! You have been most instrumental in my blog-life...always such an inspiration and a sister in Christ with whom I can identify in so many ways. You and I have both come through a difficult year this past year, but God has walked beside us, and has even carried us at times, and lifted us up and over the deeps chasms of life. Someday, when we both get to the "other side" of this life, we will have a lot of interesing things to compare...and a lot of hugs to share!!! Thank you for being my friend here in blogland and forever.

  3. Thanks for reminding me of all the things I have to be thankful for and WHO to thank. God is awesome! We do have life alot easier these days, God has blessed us beyond our desires!

    1. Yes, we do have so many things to be thankful for in our modern days...my heart goes out to those who are suffering in the 100+ degree heat this week due to bad storms and no electricity. That's a bit different than what I was talking about above. Thank you for stopping by today for a little visit and walk down memory lane! Have a blessed day!

  4. nice post thanks for sharing...looking for to visit more blessings


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