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How did people survive before fans, A/C and bath/showers?

All those hot clothes and cramped living spaces.

I wouldn't survive one day of summer.

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by Anonymousreply 105Last Saturday at 10:52 AM

I've read various things in books written long ago...

Like there was a book set in the Jim Crow South, where it said something like "... and ladies bathed three times a day and dusted themselves all over with talcum powder when they got out...", because there wasn't any deodorant back then.

In the summers of 19th century New York, the small overcrowded rooms in tenement buildings would be so hot that nobody could sleep, so half the inhabitants of the building would drag a mattress up to the building's roof, and hundreds of people would lie piled together on mattresses, because it was cooler than staying inside.

Do people still jigger fire hydrants, so that kids can play in the spraying water?

by Anonymousreply 1Last Wednesday at 3:07 AM

I wonder which would be worse: having the electric go off in the winter or the summer?

by Anonymousreply 2Last Wednesday at 10:32 AM

Maybe we're getting to the bottom of a shorter life expectancy. They were cooked.

by Anonymousreply 3Last Wednesday at 10:37 AM

I heard it that it wasn't quite as hot then because there wasn't as much concrete but the South had sleeping porches for summers and the icehouse came into popularity as a place to hang out at. Icehouse are bars now but they started as places to go get cool.

by Anonymousreply 4Last Wednesday at 10:41 AM

OP, I don't have AC in my apartment this summer. (It's a long story.) I live in southern New England and it's been a hot summer. Plus, I basically never leave my apartment, so I haven't experienced air conditioning since last summer, save a quick trip to the grocery.

I can't speak for people of yesteryear, but here are a few observations:

-I leave my windows open all night. In the morning, it's generally 73-77 degrees in the apartment. As soon as the sun rises, I close my windows and close my blinds. This keeps the apartment relatively cool, about 5 degrees cooler than the outside, sometimes more. (It's 86 degrees outside right now, and 81 in my apartment)

-I open my windows again around 5-6 PM, regardless of the outside temperature. The air circulation cools things down a bit in the evening.

-Because the heat gradually increases, and my body isn't used to AC, the heat is generally tolerable. (It's only bad when it doesn't cool off enough at night. When the apartment is still 80 degrees when I wake up, I know I'm in for a hot day)

-I will admit, I do use a fan, so I have that advantage

I've just learned to accept it, frankly. I know it's not going to change. I assume this is the attitude people used to assume.

by Anonymousreply 5Last Wednesday at 10:45 AM

People would soak their feet in cold water. That would cool off your whole body. Also running cold water over your wrists and neck helps cool down the body.

R2 I think having the electricity go off in the summer would be worse. In the winter, I could keep piling on blankets and quilts, start a fire in the fireplace (if I have one). In the summer, there's not much I can do to stay cool once I take off all my clothes.

by Anonymousreply 6Last Wednesday at 11:44 AM

Just wait, OP. Russia or North Korea will set off an EMP over America and we’ll all find out.

by Anonymousreply 7Last Wednesday at 11:56 AM

It blows my mind that my ancestors came to Texas and decided to stay and not keep moving. It is so hot and humid and miserable. Even if it were 10 degrees cooler, it would be too much. Clearly they were all very stupid. I can imagine life without cars and television and even phones. I cannot imagine living here without air conditioning. I know I would die, because I almost died without a/c when I lived in New England. It is so gross and exhausting to be hot and sticky all day for months on end!

by Anonymousreply 8Last Wednesday at 11:56 AM

I asked our granny who was born in 1943 what they did as kids to keep cool in Texas.

Fans. Electric fans. Lots of them. Everywhere.

Plus, their house was divided by a breezeway. Living areas and kitchen to the left; bedrooms to the right. That somehow helped. It was also great for kiddie bowling, lemonade and iced tea.

by Anonymousreply 9Last Wednesday at 12:24 PM

R9 you’d run fans etc on one side of the house during the day and bedrooms at night.

by Anonymousreply 10Last Wednesday at 12:29 PM

My relatives in the south of Italy didn't have electricity or running water until about 1958. It's very arid there and fresh water was very limited. They told me everyone stunk. But now I understand why when I was wearing a polo shirt when it was 70 or 75 degrees, they yelled at me for not wearing a coat. That was actually cool to them!

by Anonymousreply 11Last Wednesday at 12:35 PM

I lived in Long Beach in an older apartment w no air. I thought I would die!. It didn’t cool off until November. I hate the sun anyway. CA was not a fit for me.

by Anonymousreply 12Last Wednesday at 12:41 PM

I have also found sleeping with a damp blanket covering you makes unbearable summer nights tolerable.

by Anonymousreply 13Last Wednesday at 12:42 PM

Splashing water on your ears has an amazing instant cool-down effect.

by Anonymousreply 14Last Wednesday at 12:45 PM

Some true history of the pre-A/C era. An older woman in my office told me that in non-air conditioned office buildings if the temperature went above a certain amount - say 85 or 90 degrees, everyone in the office could take off and go home. It was local law in New York City.

Also, movie theaters used to advertise "cooled air" which meant that they got huge blocks of ice and ran fans over the ice to cool the air - a crude version of air-conditioning. A lot of Broadway plays would close for the summer in that no one wanted to be packed inside in hot weather. If they were hits like "Lady in the Dark", they would reopen in the Fall.

by Anonymousreply 15Last Wednesday at 12:48 PM

We sometimes slept out on the screen porch.

We had awnings on our house. Really stopped the sun from getting in. I was watching an old film of NYC and noticed most buildings had awnings, too.

My grandfather told me in the summer when it got hot people would go out and sleep in the parks.

Btw, until 1850 there was the Little Ice Age (from about 1300 to 1850) - it was actually cooler, for centuries, which may explain how people didn't mind wearing more/heavier clothes.

by Anonymousreply 16Last Wednesday at 12:54 PM

[quote]I wonder which would be worse: having the electric go off in the winter or the summer?

Winter, of course, if only because water pipes can freeze and burst. I've turned on my AC once this year (to make sure it works) and we've already had more 90˚ days than a typical summer. I have ceiling fans on during the day and I sleep in a downstairs bedroom when it gets really hot -- always cool and comfortable down there.

But I much prefer running when it's 95˚ than 55˚, so I partial to being warm.

by Anonymousreply 17Last Wednesday at 12:56 PM

They weren't such pathetic snowflakes?

by Anonymousreply 18Last Wednesday at 12:59 PM

[quote]Also, movie theaters used to advertise "cooled air" which meant that they got huge blocks of ice and ran fans over the ice to cool the air - a crude version of air-conditioning.

Maybe in the very early days but by the early 30s they had actual air conditioning units.

by Anonymousreply 19Last Wednesday at 1:01 PM

Bringing AC into the mainstream

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by Anonymousreply 20Last Wednesday at 1:05 PM

Spray or wipe yourself down with a mix of water and rubbing alcohol to cool off. Spray or wipe your stinky bits with a mix of vinegar and water to clean up the sweat and smell.

by Anonymousreply 21Last Wednesday at 1:10 PM

Everyone died before 30.

by Anonymousreply 22Last Wednesday at 1:13 PM

You often see men in jackets and ties and women in these clothes covering everything from neck to ankle with little jackets. I have no idea how they did it. But they don't look miserable. Maybe it didn't get as hot in the city early in the 20th century.

You can put on clothes and blankets in the winter. You can be naked in the summer and still be miserable. Once on a horrible night the electricity went out. I went to a pier on the river where there must have been a thousand people. The air was as thick heavy and hot as it was in my apartment so I just went home. Definitely would prefer the electricity go out in the winter.

by Anonymousreply 23Last Wednesday at 1:23 PM

My grandmother was a big proponent of shutting up the house during the heat of the day and then running window fans at night to pull in the cooler night air. She also taught me to run my head under the cold tap before going to bed. If your head is cool, the rest of you feels cool, too.

by Anonymousreply 24Last Wednesday at 1:32 PM

remember that the clothing was all natural fibers, which absorb more.

if we are going to give up AC, then we need to bring back the Siesta.

by Anonymousreply 25Last Wednesday at 1:35 PM

Please remember that OP asked how people survived before FANS -- many of the upthread posters mention fans.

by Anonymousreply 26Last Wednesday at 1:39 PM

r17, you May be my twin soul. I sleep on the basement when it’s hot.

And of course losing electricity in winter is worse - especially if you’ve got a furnace and not a boiler. A furnace fan stops running without electricity. Then the home’s pipes are going n danger of freezing and bursting. I’ve been tempted to buy a generator for just this reason.

High heat can be oppressive and exhausting, but in most parts of the US, you can still go outside and be marginally more comfortable.

There are parts of the world where climate change is bringing on more heat waves where it was already hot as fuck and most be don’t have a/c, as in parts of Pakistan.

Swamp coolers are useful where it’s more arid.

I lived in Chicago in the heat wave in the summer of 1995. Then, people were dying by the hundreds.

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by Anonymousreply 27Last Wednesday at 1:39 PM

Pipes can freeze in the winter if the power goes out for an extended period of time. That sucks for sure, but a power outage in the heat of summer is no fun at all...especially during a pandemic. We had a horrible thunderstorm roll through a couple weeks ago that killed my power for almost two days. Had to pitch almost everything in my fridge. Stayed with a friend during the day. Those shami type cooling rags you see everywhere are actually a good way to beat the heat. Wet it and put it around your neck.

by Anonymousreply 28Last Wednesday at 1:41 PM

When it gets to a certain point, fans seem to do no good. Like sitting in front of an open oven with a fan blowing heat on you.

by Anonymousreply 29Last Wednesday at 1:41 PM

Whether losing electricity is worse in summer or winter depends entirely on where you live. Northern US/Canada, losing heat in winter is going to be much more dangerous. In the South, losing power in summer will be more dangerous.

by Anonymousreply 30Last Wednesday at 1:41 PM

I lived in several New Orleans houses without AC. The ceilings are very high, with big windows and shutters. There are ceiling fans, which keep the air moving. In the Deep South it storms almost every afternoon, which cools things off and makes a dramatic fog to walk through. I think the tradition of drinking sweet tea and Coca Cola comes from having to stay awake in all the heat and humidity. It’s hard to believe, but you do sort of get used to it, and you take a lot of cold baths and showers.

by Anonymousreply 31Last Wednesday at 1:43 PM

The houses designed with the really high ceilings were to store the cold air and let it descend during the day as r24s grandmother pointed out.

I stayed in the Caribbean for a few weeks at the height of summer with a friends families house that was a restored plantation residence. It didn’t have AC and it was not on the beach. But it was large and open got a nice breeze. The large rooms did the same thing with the night air. Still, I was taught to use the powder and to also wear an undershirt when wearing polos and dress shirts. It really did make a difference.

by Anonymousreply 32Last Wednesday at 1:58 PM

^^store the cold night air.

by Anonymousreply 33Last Wednesday at 1:59 PM

R12: Did you live in that old Grand Hotel that is now apartments right on the beach? Because if so, my friend who lived there years ago went through the same thing. The building didn't allow any air conditioning units because of the historic character of the facade of the building or whatever. His apartment, inside, got to 90 degrees. YUCK!

by Anonymousreply 34Last Wednesday at 2:05 PM

AC has totally screwed up our ability to withstand heat.

[quote] It has been reported previously that people who are acclimated to naturally ventilated (NV) environments respond to hot and warm environments differently than people who are acclimated to air-conditioned (AC) environments. To study whether living and working in NV or AC environments for long periods of time can lead to different types of physiological acclimatization, and whether physiological acclimatization has an important influence on people's responses of thermal comfort, measurements of physiological reactions (including skin temperature, sweat rate, heart rate variability, and heat stress protein 70) and thermal comfort responses were conducted in a 'heat shock' environment (climate chamber) with 20 people (10 in the NV group and 10 in the AC group). The results showed that the NV group had a significantly stronger capacity for physiological regulation to the heat shock than the AC group. In other words, the NV group did not feel as hot and uncomfortable as the AC group did. These results strongly indicate that living and working in indoor thermal environments for long periods of time affects people's physiological acclimatization. Also, it appears that long-term exposure to stable AC environments may weaken people's thermal adaptability.

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by Anonymousreply 35Last Wednesday at 2:08 PM

They didn’t. They’re all dead. Every last one of them. Dead.

by Anonymousreply 36Last Wednesday at 2:09 PM

Insert Olivia de Havilland coment here. 😢

by Anonymousreply 37Last Wednesday at 2:11 PM

R5 get yourself a nice cooling blanket. I have one and it’s great!

When I was younger and had no air-conditioning I would take a wet towel and place it on top of me and have the fan blowing over me. That was very cooling. Or wiping yourself down with a cold towel and then let the fan dry you off.

by Anonymousreply 38Last Wednesday at 2:28 PM

Here in DC, people used to sleep in Rock Creek Park. (People still sleep in Rock Creek Park, of course, but they’re homeless.) These were whole families who would pack into the Model T and drive down to the water’s edge. I’ve seen some amazing old photos.

by Anonymousreply 39Last Wednesday at 2:50 PM

On the eastern Seaboard, every city dweller who could afford to get away for the summer did so, they went to the beach or the mountains to breathe cool air and sleep. If the family had enough disposable income, the family would rent a house in a cooler climate for the summer, and the wife and kiddies would spend the summer there, and the husband would keep working and say in the hot city home one weeknights, and join his family for weekends and his official vacation. You know, the "Seven Year Itch" setup. Or the family would go to a resort of the mountain for weeks, the official family vacation would be spent escaping the heat of the cities.

Those who couldn't afford a second house for the summer but who had some vacation would go to "summer camps" for their vacations, where they'd live in rustic cabins or rental tents, and have affairs with the waiters.

All of the adult summer camps and most of the mountain resorts are gone now, they became obsolete when air conditioning and cheaper world travel came in.

by Anonymousreply 40Last Wednesday at 3:05 PM

My mother grew up during the Depression and told me how common it was for her family to go to the riverside parks often, for the breeze and shady trees.

by Anonymousreply 41Last Wednesday at 3:08 PM

I lived 8 years in a duplex that didn't have AC in LA. It was a first floor apartment, so that helped tremendously.

What r5 described above is much of what I learned to do. I closed all the windows and doors by early morning, 8 a.m. at latest. Pulled blinds shut too. Then I had several fans running throughout the apartment keeping air circulating. It helps to have one of those fans pointed toward the ceiling to have circulate air from upper part of room.

Then around 6 p.m, or so, I'd open the doors and windows and let the outside air come in. I'd open the backdoor too so there was a cross breeze. Then the apartment was usually at its hottest about 7 or 8 p.m. but things were cooling down. Usually by 9 or 10 p.m., the apartment was very pleasant.

by Anonymousreply 42Last Wednesday at 3:28 PM

R39, my father was born in and grew up in, DC. I recall him telling me that when he was a kid in the 20's and 30's, his family used to go to Hains Point to sleep during the summer.

by Anonymousreply 43Last Wednesday at 3:41 PM

I worked at home in an apartment that didn't have air conditioning. Company didn't care when I did my work as long as it was turned in by deadline.

During the hottest weeks, the apartment just got too hot to even think clearly by afternoon. So, I'd do my work during the middle of the night when it was coolest. I'd start work by midnight and work through the night. I'd be winding down by 8 a.m., then go to bed and sleep during the heat of the day. I had several fans pointed at my bed to be sure I stayed cool as I slept.

This schedule worked because I'm a night person anyway. But I managed to be very productive despite the lack of AC at my place.

by Anonymousreply 44Last Wednesday at 4:25 PM

[quote] Do people still jigger fire hydrants, so that kids can play in the spraying water?

r1 What did you call me?

by Anonymousreply 45Last Wednesday at 4:29 PM

Very cool, r43! Thanks for sharing that.

by Anonymousreply 46Last Wednesday at 6:13 PM

We all had no A/C back in the day (60's). We would utilize fans in the windows blowing out. That helped a lot. When I visited a relative they had an attic Fan which drew from the windows up through the attic. That worked great on hot evenings.

by Anonymousreply 47Last Wednesday at 6:13 PM

I grew up in the Northeast in a large Victorian with no air conditioning. The climate was different in the 1960s through 1980s in that we didn’t really have oppressive heat except for a few weeks in August. We kept the blinds closed during the day and opened every window upstairs at night. The backyard was cooler than the street so we’d do a big wind tunnel moving the air from the back out the front windows of the house. We’d also do the same on the first floor and sleep with just the screen door in place not the big solid wooden one. (How the flimsy lock on the screen door was supposed to protect us I will never know.) My great-aunt was the last person I knew with the actual canvas awnings on her house. She had the awning man come every year in the late spring to clean & repair them then install them. After he died it became my father’s responsibility until she passed away. The awnings were relatively expensive. It was considered déclassé to have awnings of different fabrics that didn’t match. They made the house noticeably cooler but they also cut down on the amount of natural light in any room because, depending on your choice, they could hang very low. The metal awnings were a pain because once they were up, they were up. They cutoff the sunlight. Plus, when it rained the sound of the rain hitting the awning was really loud.

Regarding the theaters, most did shut down for the summer. I do know of a 1927 former vaudeville house that seats 2,700 which didn’t get AC until Mariah Carey used it for a music video. they brought in huge tractor trailer AC units because the 1920s-1940s system of blowing the cool air up from the basement level was no match for the lights. And that reminds me that most large buildings/venues always smelled kind of musty in the summertime!

by Anonymousreply 48Last Wednesday at 6:41 PM

Canvas awnings! I haven't seen or even thought about them in years, decades even.

by Anonymousreply 49Last Thursday at 9:46 AM

At the beach in three piece suits.

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by Anonymousreply 50Last Thursday at 1:28 PM

DC is horrible in the summer! So hot and muggy!

by Anonymousreply 51Last Thursday at 1:35 PM

A lot of them died back then from heat related illnesses.

by Anonymousreply 52Last Thursday at 1:36 PM

Now THIS! is a heatwave! Australia 1896

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by Anonymousreply 53Last Thursday at 2:15 PM

My great aunt and uncle lived in a rambling shack outside a small town in Ga. They were very poor . They had one of those attic exhaust fans they would turn on at night,and even after the hottest day youd have to have what she called a "summer blanket" because it would get chilly at night . I will always remember the sound of that fan,the breeze rushing through the window laden with the smell of the woods and dew,the crisp feel of the starched (and ironed) sheets. If I had one of those I could definitely see living without air conditioning. If I lived in the country .

by Anonymousreply 54Last Thursday at 2:25 PM

Oh, I've still got "summer blankets"! My AC is noisy and I don't like to have it on all summer, so for the warm or moderately hot days, I've got some lightweight 100% cotton throws. They give you the feeling of being covered by a blanket, but are so breathable they don't warm me up.

As to how people survived during the summer in heavy Victorian clothing... there's a passage in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories, saying how London is stifling in a heat save, and the pavement is melting and ladies are fainting... and it's EIGHTY-FIVE DEGREES OUT. Here, that's an unusually cool summer day, Victorian clothing was designed for a much cooler climate than mine.

by Anonymousreply 55Last Thursday at 2:40 PM

People didn't live in the heat until the 50s. This is why Florida tripled in population, and Nevada and Arizona skyrocketed.

by Anonymousreply 56Last Thursday at 2:49 PM

Regarding Victorian clothing... women's summer dresses at least were made of the lightest of light cotton and linen, even if they wore several layers of clothing all of the layers were breathable. A lady might be comparatively comfortable on a hot day in a lightweight frock like this, if she could maybe go without her corset for once.

As for the men... well, a farmer might be okay, in his denim overalls and cotton shirt and broad-brimmed hat. A Gentleman might have lightweight summer suits of linen, and heavy winter suits of wool... but what about the middle-class man? The typical middle-class man had ONE good wool suit, which he would wear six days a week, and maybe a different suit for his sunday best. Imagine wearing the same three-piece suit all year round, changing your underwear and linen to keep sweat from ruining it, brushing it instead of washing it, and the only concession to climate being long underwear underneath in winter.

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by Anonymousreply 57Last Thursday at 2:50 PM

Human whirlybirds would cool people off. Yet another vocation killed by technology.

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by Anonymousreply 58Last Thursday at 3:05 PM

This is why the Broadway theater season starts in the fall, because that was when you could start going back into the theaters. And why there was a thing known as Summer Stock.

I've read that people would drag mattresses into Central Park and sleep there. It would be quite social, with families hanging out together, and children running all over the place.

by Anonymousreply 59Last Thursday at 3:14 PM

before fans?

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by Anonymousreply 60Last Thursday at 3:18 PM

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in sub Saharan Africa. I did not have running water and had spotty electricity. You get used to it.

by Anonymousreply 61Last Thursday at 3:20 PM

R61here - I wanted to add that my house had a shiny corrugated metal roof, which essentially turned my home into a solar cooker. Sometimes me and my neighbors would sleep outside, but you had to worry about mosquitos, dog -sized rodents and snakes.

I must admit a lot of my calories came from alcohol.

by Anonymousreply 62Last Thursday at 3:27 PM

As someone noted up thread, life expectancy (circa 1700s) was about 30 years - I'm referring to England now. Plus they had disease, hunger, poverty and whatever else to contend with. So guessing heat wasn't likely as big an issue as it is for us now. Mind you, maybe U.K. was cooler in that era.

by Anonymousreply 63Last Thursday at 3:44 PM

They had ice

by Anonymousreply 64Last Thursday at 4:16 PM

Also, people in those days STANK to high heavens!

by Anonymousreply 65Last Thursday at 4:23 PM

Lawdy, Miss Scahlet! Cap'n Butlah sho do smell pahful muskeh!

by Anonymousreply 66Last Thursday at 4:33 PM

When I was a kid people had these basic cabins or cottages, no heat, usually no TV, you went away for the whole summer, to the ocean, or a lake - the mom and the kids. Dad would come up on the weekends, if he worked close enough. Then people started getting pools, and AC, and didn't go away as much.

by Anonymousreply 67Last Thursday at 5:48 PM

R67 me, too. We swam all day, ate really simple inexpensive food, and slept really profoundly. These cabins (we called them camps) had wood surfaces (knotty pine was also common). This was the early 1970’s. I remember a lot of bright orange and lime green clothing, and we drank Kool-Aid and a drink called Zarex, that was like a concentrated syrup that you added to pitchers of water to sweeten it. We borrowed a friend’s beach parking permit and swam in the ocean, and then returned to the lake in the evening. We would jump in the lake to rinse off the sand and salt from the ocean, and the lake felt like bathwater. We ate potato chips and potato sticks that had sand on them. There were only a few types of chips. We ate a brand called Old King Cole I think. Good times. I’ve inherited that cottage but it’s rebuilt fancier now, and can be used year round. This all happened in Northern New England.

by Anonymousreply 68Last Thursday at 6:40 PM

If you had at least a modest house or a middle class apartment, it was typical to have a "sleeping porch"--sometimes screened, sometimes open. Basically that's where you slept in the summer. They had them in the North--our 1920s house had one. They certainly had them in the South---that's why a "charleston" style house has an upstairs porch. Over time, people often "winterized" porches (adding windows and access to heat) and often people with a screened porch had storm windows for it that they'd put up in the colder months and then use the porch for storage. My first apartment in DC had an old sleeping porch that was essentially a spare room although you needed to bring in a space heater and use outlets outside of it to make it work as a home office.

by Anonymousreply 69Last Thursday at 6:55 PM

How did people survive before OnlyFans?

by Anonymousreply 70Last Thursday at 7:02 PM

My grandmother was a Southern belle in the 1920s and she told me that all properly raised young Southern girls knew to dip a ball of cotton in alcohol and swab their pits if they started to stink. She said if you were at a party you might do it several times over the course of the night. And if their boyfriends started to stink, they'd make them either do the same thing or at least go scrub their underarms with soap.

by Anonymousreply 71Last Thursday at 7:12 PM

Serial killers love people who sleep with their windows open.

by Anonymousreply 72Last Thursday at 7:13 PM

What I want to know is now mold didn’t grow on everything in extremely humid environments before air conditioning?

My aunt used to open her door and not run the air conditioning in her apartment in Georgia. All her clothes and furniture became covered in mold and mildew. The drawers of all her furniture swelled so they were totally stuck.

by Anonymousreply 73Last Thursday at 7:43 PM

Men would not work with women, because the men stunk.

by Anonymousreply 74Last Thursday at 9:57 PM

It was a dry heat!

by Anonymousreply 75Last Friday at 12:38 AM

[quote]AC has totally screwed up our ability to withstand heat.

As a kid and a teen in the 1970s and 1980s I went to school in buildings without air conditioning, and my parents refused to turn it on most of the time. And I got sick a LOT. Passed out a few times, and so did some other kids at school. Lost weight every summer from being unable to eat and getting dehydrated. Couldn't sleep until after midnight when it would finally get to below 80F outside, and woke up stuffy and feeling gross from a fan blowing in all night long.

I absolutely do not buy the theory that people were fine without air conditioning and now they're just spoiled.

by Anonymousreply 76Last Friday at 1:00 AM

Wonderful post, r68. Do you recall the food you ate? I'm struggling to remember what we ate back in the 60s in the summer. I was just a kid.

by Anonymousreply 77Last Friday at 4:35 AM

R77 I do. We cooked out on a small hibachi often, because the gas oven would heat up the cottage. We ate hamburgers and hot dogs (some had red membranes on them). I remember big bowls of potato and macaroni salad, usually with only a few ingredients (elbow macaroni, Chopped egg, mayonnaise, diced celery and a tiny amount of onion and/green bell pepper, a teaspoon of vinegar, salt, pepper, paprika /rough chopped potatoes, mayo, chopped boiled egg, minced white or red onion, salt, pepper). We also had a big pot of something called American Chop Suey (elbow macaroni, browned hamburger, tomato soup and possible tomato paste, green bell pepper, topped with cheap Parmesan cheese in a green metallic cardboard shaker). In mornings we ate a lot of scrambled eggs (fixed in a big square electric skillet), and blueberry pancakes (w picked about 30 quarts of berries each summer). In the 70’s we probably had margarine and imitation syrup like Aunt Jemima), but switched to Land O’Lakes butter and real maple syrup around 1980. We also ate a lot of tuna sandwiches, and peanut butter and grape or strawberry jam, on cheaper whole wheat bread in a yellow wrapper). For treats we had cheap chocolate chip cookies, and peanut butter cookies (but when or grandmother cake she made real chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies creased with a fork hatchwork patter on top, and that was a big, BIG deal). We had inexpensive steaks on the hibachi on weekends (cheap cuts marinated in salad dressing), and someimes Our dad would dice the leftover steak and make fried rice in the same big electric skillet (sautéed onions, butter, reheated diced beefsteak, cooked rice, an egg, and a ton of soy soy sauce). We would have been swimming all day, so we would gobble down anything they fed us. When company came to sleep over, we were excited because they’d bring treats we did not often have, like Orleans, pop tarts, cheese balls, and potato sticks (spelled stix?). When Pepperidge Farm gingerbread men and chessman cookies arrived, we thought that was “rich people food”.

by Anonymousreply 78Last Friday at 6:26 AM

I had elderly relatives down South who felt the same way about air conditioning as Miss Welty.

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by Anonymousreply 79Last Friday at 6:31 AM

My worst memory of not having AC was in college in Delaware in the 1980s. The dorms were hot as hell until mid October. On very hot September days it was really unbearable. Fans were no help.

by Anonymousreply 80Last Friday at 6:44 AM

Window fans work best turned outward, acting as an exhaust.

by Anonymousreply 81Last Friday at 6:50 AM

R5, I live in Manhattan and do what you do. Since I don't own stock in Con Edison, see no reason to run an air conditioner 24/7.

by Anonymousreply 82Last Friday at 7:03 AM

I can tell you how we dealt with not having AC in cars. That little triangular window that used to occur as part of the driver's and front passenger's windows was brilliant. You could direct a generous stream of air right across your face and neck. Unless there was a hot wind, you were never hot unless you were an unfortunate kid in the back. I bet they only got rid of that design feature when they introduced car AC, because they knew nobody would switch it on while they had The Window.

R35's observation seems to work the other way as well. I'm in Australia, and central heating is very uncommon here. People who come from overseas (and stay in homes rather than air conditioned hotels) always say they freeze in the winter here, whereas we find central heating oppressive - way too hot - when we travel.

by Anonymousreply 83Last Friday at 7:07 AM

When I see 1800 photos of grand ladies on Fifth Avenue in their full regalia, think of them stepping into horse shit from the many carriages.

by Anonymousreply 84Last Friday at 7:07 AM

In cities, people slept on fire escapes,

by Anonymousreply 85Last Friday at 7:11 AM

I read an article a few years ago that explained why shore houses on the Jersey shore didn't need air conditioning years ago because they were designed so that the sea breeze could flow through all the rooms from front to back. The houses were spaced further apart too. Now the houses are all on top of each other and the air can't circulate from the ocean so you need AC now.

by Anonymousreply 86Last Friday at 7:13 AM

Civilization developed in the most arid and hottest places on the planet (Mesopotamia, Egypt, etc.), and that's pretty much where humans lived for at least a couple of thousand years before venturing anywhere else in any significant numbers. They had learned early on to adapt to their environment. If all you've ever known and experienced is 100 degree plus temperatures by midday, you get used to it to a certain extent, and you find ways to mitigate it and make it more tolerable. Structures that provided shade (tents, buildings, palm trees), and of course, being near a large body of fresh water is what made life endurable. As for bathing, there is evidence that soap-like mixtures were commonly used for washing as far back as ancient Egypt.

As civilization expanded, they took this acquired knowledge with them wherever they settled, and learned how to amplify their means of adapting, right up until modern times when electricity, AC, and internal plumbing became the norm. It's what humans are driven to do. Adjust, progress, and keep moving forward. The exception being current times, where we seem to be regressing and heading in the direction of an existential threat.

by Anonymousreply 87Last Friday at 8:18 AM

I don't mind heat, it's the humidity that kills me.

by Anonymousreply 88Last Friday at 9:10 AM

A bit if nostalgia about Southern homes equipped with what we called "attic fans" -- big fans in a hall ceiling that blew hot air from the house upward into the attic and out of the dwelling through gable vents.

Those you who remember these fans may also recall the slamming of doors when the contraption was first turned on.

Most homes had household door stops that kept door partially open but not wide open, affording a modicum of privacy.

These door stops could be stones, bricks (usually wrapped with cloth or paper), a cast metal figurine, a flower pot, or even a shoe if nothing else was available.

If I ever build a house, I am installing an attic fan. They're great in the Spring and Fall.

by Anonymousreply 89Last Friday at 9:19 AM

A guy I work with has an attic fan and no ac. Year after year, every summer. The humidity in Kansas City is oppressive, I don't know how he can tolerate it.

by Anonymousreply 90Last Friday at 9:41 AM

You were up in Maine, weren’t you, r78? The Zarex and the red hotdogs were clues. I remember both.

by Anonymousreply 91Last Friday at 10:47 AM

An old Jewish lady in the Bronx told my mother that her apartment had "cross wentilation."

by Anonymousreply 92Last Friday at 10:56 AM

I had a New York apartment with cross ventilation. It really cooled off the place. Old buildings were built right to keep inhabitants comfortable.

I remember working in my recently-built office with the temperature control that always left 3/4 of the floor uncomfortable. I could not wait to get out of that air conditioned nightmare to my cool, cross ventilated apartment.

by Anonymousreply 93Last Friday at 11:27 AM

All brownstone floor throughs in Brooklyn have cross ventilation. Put box fans in the windows facing the street and suck air in from the back. One of my apartments was on a pretty big back court - a block of trees and grass. It was quite effective, unless a true heat wave arrived.

by Anonymousreply 94Last Friday at 3:25 PM

My 1917 New York apartment has cross ventilation - 2 rooms face north, 2 rooms face south,. The apartment is on the west side of the building on the top floor and it always catches the prevailing wind. I generally don't have to use the a/c except in the afternoons and evenings, when the apartment is hottest.

Another pre-a/c note: a friend lived in a 1930s apartment house in Rego Park, and all the apartments had hinges on the exterior of the door frames, because originally louvered doors were put up in the summer time so people could leave the regular door open to get more air flow through the apartments - which sounds like a neat idea,

by Anonymousreply 95Last Friday at 4:17 PM

R94, if you need a fan, you do not have cross ventilation.

With true cross ventilation, the air moves on its own. I do not understand why it does even when there is no breeze. My friend said that the air in an air shaft is colder than the air from other windows, so that it pulls the air through the apartment.

I do not know if that is true. But the air does move through the apartment even when it is still on the street.

by Anonymousreply 96Last Friday at 4:23 PM

Cross ventilation is based on temperature and wind pressure. On a hot day on a busy street, you want to make sure the air is moving from the cooler space out back out through the windows facing the noisy, busy, dirty, hot street. Thus box fans.

by Anonymousreply 97Last Friday at 5:43 PM

Yes R69 my grandparents and great grandparents’ houses in the south had sleeping porches as well as an older home before my parents remodeled it. Another grandfather said that growing up in Texas he would sometimes take a mattress out onto the lawn to get some breeze.

by Anonymousreply 98Last Friday at 6:11 PM

my grandparents had sleeping porches in Connecticut and also at all summer houses.

by Anonymousreply 99Last Friday at 6:15 PM

People went to the movies a lot. Theaters invested in cooling units, especially downtown ones.

by Anonymousreply 100Last Saturday at 7:36 AM

My freshman year of college (early 90s), I lived in a non-air-conditioned dorm. They still had those back then, even though it was fucking Florida. I had a box fan at the end of my bed and used it all night, every night, until the weather cooled off in October. At the end of the year, I got the fuck out of the dorms and found an apartment for my sophomore year. That next year, they put air conditioning in my former dorm. It was still a shithole, though.

by Anonymousreply 101Last Saturday at 8:23 AM

R101: So, the all important DL many of your male dorm mates did you see nude or at least in nothing but their under panties?

As an aside, the first dorm I lived in in 2000 in a university in Illinois also had no air conditioning. That was not fun, especially on the fourth floor. Moved to an air conditioned dorm the next year.

by Anonymousreply 102Last Saturday at 8:43 AM

Many of them, R102. There was one big, shared bathroom. The shower stalls had curtains, but young men aren't always careful about drawing them perfectly closed. There were also a couple of hot ex-high-school jock types who liked to walk around the bathroom mostly naked in the mornings. Good times.

by Anonymousreply 103Last Saturday at 8:45 AM

R103: I remember our showers had curtains, but a common changing area with a bench in the old 1960s un air conditioned dorm. I routinely got naked, got in, came out naked and toweled off in that area. A few others did too, one guy I still remember was toned, tall, with some fur, and a treasure trail that lead to a beautiful dick-- I can picture it still 20 years later. The others would reach out to grad the towel and dry off behind the curtain. They were no fun.....

by Anonymousreply 104Last Saturday at 8:52 AM

R100 Matinees in summer were (pre pandemic) full of seniors enjoying the extreme cold air in movie theaters. My mother used to do that, and always packed a light sweater (she lives in LA).

by Anonymousreply 105Last Saturday at 10:52 AM
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