We’ve “endured” a long stretch of hot weather lately, mostly in the 80’s. Whenever there’s a hot spell, a flock of “experts” swarm to the media to offer advice on keeping cool. The cat and dog people step in with their advice too. Us old coots get a chuckle every time the weather advisors take the stage. Our society can’t deal with the environment anymore. We’ve been spoiled by air conditioning. It’s everywhere: in our cars, our homes and the places where we shop, dine and work. We’ve lost the ability to cope with summer.
When we were kids (in the good old days) we got a drink from a hose, not from a bottle of chilled water from France. Our parents warned us when we did, “Be careful. Don’t blow your brains out!” Of course, it never worked. We’d put the hose in our mouth and trusted that our friends would turn it on gradually. Instead, they cranked it up to full blast. It’s why my generation is so dumb. We blew our brains out getting a drink from a hose.
It was a lot harder keeping cool in those days. People didn’t have air conditioning in their houses or pools in their back yards, except for those metal framed, canvas, kiddy ones that were one-foot deep. We didn’t care that our legs hung over the side; we’d lie down in the tepid water and pretend we were swimming at the lake. It wasn’t too exciting, but it cooled us off. It didn’t take much to entertain a bunch of kids who had blown their brains out with a hose. We’d also spend hours running around under the sprinkler or taking turns soaking each other with a hose, a pail of water or squirt guns, the kind that had to be refilled after about ten squirts. We would have killed for one of the half-gallon soakers that today’s kids have at their disposal.
You had to learn to sleep “hot” in those days. Sleeping “hot” was an art. You had to fluff up the sheet just right, so it didn’t cling to your skin and turn your pillow over every half hour to get to the cool side. You never fell into a deep sleep on a hot night back then. You just made the best of it.
We may not have had air conditioning when I was a kid, but we had something better, Kool-Aid. Nothing was quite as satisfying as a glass of frosty Kool-Aid on a dog day afternoon. Especially the way we made it, with a full cup of sugar, two if mom wasn’t watching. Some lucky folks had a second-floor back porch. It was a perfect place to slumber on a narrow cot or a hired man’s bed on a hot night. People bragged if they had a sleeping porch, not unlike they do today if they have central air. We didn’t need “experts” to tell us how to cope with the weather. Ours was a self-reliant society. We didn’t complain about it. It was what we waited for all winter. It’s why you see us old coots outdoors when the temperature heats up. We enjoy it, those of us who aren’t intimidated by the media alarmists. Of course, we don’t know any better; we blew our brains out drinking from a hose when we were kids!
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