Friday, June 29, 2012

Heat Advisory

The heat and humidity have arrived in Maryland.

I began to remember the first fourteen or so years of my life before airconditioning became widespread.  People flocked to movie theaters on days like this.  I also remember going to the Thrift Drug Store in the West Goshen Shopping Center to hang around in the aisles in the air conditioning.
It's hard to believe that my first waitressing job, at the Guernsey Cow restaurant in Exton Pa was in a restaurant with no airconditioning.

In the summers between 1956 and 1962, when I was home from school, my mother, who was a private duty nurse working from 7-3PM, took off for the summer, and she and I would spend our days at the pool at Lenape Park.  We would get home about 4, in time for her to get supper ready for when Dad came home from work at 6PM --- and he worked outside in the heat at his Exxon ( then Esso) station.  Our house was not airconditioned; if it was really hot, she and I would like on the tile floor in the living room on towels in front of a large electric fan.

My parents were not big beach-goers. We did go at least three times during my childhood, though.
This photo was taken on the beach at Ocean City New Jersey in the summer of 1954:

Jump to 1979 through 1984, when I was a young Daughter of Charity, living in Petersburg Virginia. One of the sisters said she thought Petersburg was built over hell. The heat and humidity were unrelenting, and were enhanced by the sulphurous fumes from the Allied Chemical plant and the tobacco processing plant.  The convent chapel, community room, and refectory were airconditioned, but the rest of the cinderblock building and the schools were not.  I remember going over to my classroom in late August and September at 5AM to open the windows and turn on the fans, to try to bring some of the cooler morning air in.  My long-sleeved navy blue habit would be sticking to me most of the days.
Actually, when I think of it, most of the high school classrooms in which I taught for twenty-five years were not airconditioned.  I was younger and thinner then, but I just lived with the expectation of discomfort.  Most people have done so for most of the history of the world.

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