Quick, give me air…

Last night when I got into my car at 11:07 p.m. after grocery shopping, the temperature was 97 degrees. I literally exhaled a gasp.

In North Central Texas, we’re over 25 days and counting of triple-digit temperatures. Everything outside is crispy and starting to turn brown. The whole outside looks like it could catch fire any minute. And as those of you who have been receiving my newsletter know, we had a range fire near our home a few years ago.

My husband is struggling to save the plants with targeted watering three times a day, but we aren’t even making an effort on the grass. With no end to the heat in sight, we fear it’s a battle we couldn’t win. Not even considering the waste of water, I can’t imagine what it would do to our water bill. What’s happening with the electric bill is bad enough.

I’m starting to feel like I live in Arizona. Or southern Nevada.  There, many homeowners don’t even have grass. They have gravel and stone in their yards instead. That’s starting to look pretty good to me.

But I digress. This post really isn’t about the weather. It’s about air conditioning, which all of us take for granted nowadays.

When I was growing up in West Texas, we had no “refrigerated air conditioning.” (That’s what we used to call it.)  …..  Daytime temperatures were blazing hot, but nighttime temps usually cooled down. Still, we had a swamp cooler mounted in one of the windows and sometimes it was effective and sometimes not. For those who aren’t familiar with swamp coolers, what it amounts to is a big metal box insulated with straw or some other product that water will pass through, surrounding a big fan. This works pretty well in dry climates, but would be miserable in humid climates, such as North Central Texas.

What I recall is it usually made so much noise we couldn’t hold a conversation in the same room and sometimes if the thing wasn’t working right, it threw drops of water out into the room, making everything wet.

The concept of a swamp cooler is centuries old, going all the way back to ancient Romans and Persians. Even that long ago, those who lived in desert climes figured out how to stay cool, even without electricity.

I visited Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley once. That building was cooled by water passing over a rock wall, which made the room almost cold. Again, no electricity. I even wrote about that concept, sort of, in SALVATION, TEXAS.

Air conditioning as we know it first began to transform movie theaters in the thirties. Frequently, attending a movie was the only opportunity some folks had for just cooling off on a hot summer day. And in transforming movie theaters, you could say cool air also transformed movies, period. Increased and regular movie attendance spurred the making of more movies. Eventually employers discovered workers were more productive if they were more comfortable.

I lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years. One of the many things I enjoyed there was life without air conditioning. There, it rarely got hot enough, long enough to suffer much. I got used to living without that blowing air, which was nice. My contacts didn’t dry out and my nose wasn’t stuffy.

How about you? Do you live with or without air conditioning?



Filed under Lifestyle

10 responses to “Quick, give me air…

  1. Mary Craig

    We must have air conditioning, but no swamp coolers here. With temps in the 90s and humidity pushing 100%, living without AC would be murder. We had swamp coolers in El Paso, with a relative humidity of 20%. Of course, when we needed it the most during the monsoon season, the swamp cooler didn’t work because for that brief time, humidity was high. I’m too old and fat and set in my ways to give up the AC now. I’ll figure out a way to pay the bill.


  2. LOL, Mary. Me, too. North Central Texas is too hot and humid to struggle with no air conditioning. But my daughter, who lives in Oregon, said to me about a week ago that she was running the heater in her car on her way to work.


  3. Caroline Clemmons

    I remember the window swamp cooler. Later my mom had one mounted on top of the roof which poured air into ductwork like we have for central air. That was better. Yes, I remember sitting around trying to talk over the swamp cooler in the window–too cool in that room and not much help for the rest of the house. Last week our a/c unit was out for 36 hours. It was 102 in our house. Thank heavens, we’re cool again indoors. Still, I think Oregon would be nice.. I’m just saying…


  4. We live in air conditioning now but growing up in West Texas we had no air conditioning at all.. The windows were raised as high as they would go and all doors were open, If there was no breeze we would often get in the stock tank and enjoy the cool water being pumped into it by the windmill…


  5. LOL, Jimmie Sue. I well remember those stock tanks. Sweeping the moss off the surface so we could get to the clear water. At my grandparents’ place, they had mostly big steel tub-like tanks at the windmills, but we had one tank that was just a mud-bottomed arroyo with water in it. Wading out into it, I always felt like I was walking in cow manure. LOL And if a bunch of us went swimming and stirred up the bottom, we had pretty yucky water. I’ve really become spoiled. I don’t know if I could make myself do that now. Amazing that we never got sick. ….. Another pleasure about living in the Pacific Northwest was the beautiful clear-water, ice-cold streams.


  6. Peggy Jane

    These stories remind me of my early teaching job in an un-air conditioned classroom with approx. 25-30 kids. They were wilted daisies by the end of the day and my crisp cotton dress with the full skirt and patent leather belt was plastered to me as I rallied around the room trying to keep the kids focused on their work. School boards finally realized kids were unable to concentrate while recovering from a heat stroke and teachers were allowed to purchase a swamp cooler for their classroom window if they wished. I did and learned to speak REAL loud. Remember the fun of speaking into the fan or feeling the spit of water and smell of wet hay? Let’s not forget the mosquitoes!


    • LOL, Peggy….. Good grief, this sounds like you were teaching in my school in West Texas. I recall one class when I was in high school in an older building where the windows were wide open all the time and there were no screens on them. The football players (who always caused trouble ) would climb out the windows and run off. ….. I remember those skirts and belts, too. LOL Isn’t it amazing that we weren’t allowed to wear jeans?


  7. Janet Blackwell

    Just read this post. Was in Missouri last week. Now we are expecting 111 here in Dallas today. Thank goodness for this present day air conditioning. My complaint is the ice maker is broken and I have no ice cube trays but with only a basket deal in freezer really no room to balance a tray. I’m not suffering like the poor folks so I can not complain. Love your books. Loved reading today’s post about going back in time to establish the family of the characters. Great!! planning! Makes the story more believable.


    • OMG, Janet. Not the ice maker. Your post made me dash to the kitchen and look for an ice tray. The only thing I found was a plastic one that makes ice cubes in the shape of Texas! But it works.
      Thanks for joining my blog and thanks for reading the books. In relationship stories where the relationship is the plot, depth of character becomes even more important. Besides that, planning like that is part of my OCD.


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