Breland: Beating the heat different now from then

Published 11:43 am Friday, July 29, 2022

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Every now and then when my Dad would reminisce about something from his long-ago past, he would wistfully say, “Those were the good old days!”

My Mom would retort, “Those were not the good old days! Those were the days of washing clothes on a rub board and cooking on hot wood stoves. THESE” — she would stress — “Are the good old days!”

She remembered because she had been there and done that! Thankfully I came along later and didn’t experience being outside washing clothes and cooking on a wood stove. I am basically an inside person and with the very hot weather July brings, I can relate to what she was saying.

Walking from an air-conditioned building into the heat outside almost feels like walking into a wall. Staying inside in an air-conditioned building helps!

Can you imagine cooking three meals a day for a family on an old wood stove in that kind of heat? That must have been the absolute pits! It had to be done. That was time before sandwiches!

Some people say they don’t believe it was a hot then as it is now, but it apparently was just as hot! Before the advent of air conditioning, people just suffered through it the best way they could — under a shade tree or on the porch. Maybe they didn’t even realize how hot it was!

The heat in August is also about overpowering if you have to be out, but it always comes, so we have learned to expect and deal with it.

Playing outside under the shade of an oak tree was much cooler than staying in the house when I was growing up. Even with all the windows and doors open during the hottest part of the day, it was much cooler outside under a tree or out on a porch than in the house.

Have you ever made a pallet and slept out on the screen porch at night because it was cooler there? Then you are a child of the pre-air-conditioning generation. Later window fans came along to bring in the cool night air. I remember how pleased I was when we got our first little fan to cool us off while sleeping.

We have become so used to air conditioning that it is hardly possible to stay out in the heat for very long anymore. Even fans blowing without air-conditioning won’t do the job of cooling for our modern senses.

I was reminded of this just recently while visiting in a house without air-conditioning, even with a fan blowing in my direction. Needless to say, the visit didn’t last long and I felt very sorry for the occupants.

This is also the time when hurricanes start bustling about. We listen for the weather reports and dread the time when the electricity goes off and there is no AC! It usually happens what seems the hottest part of summer.

My AC unit was out for a couple of days recently, but thankfully I had a small window unit I could turn on and keep one room cool. It was wonderful when it was fixed and I had cool air all over again.

With the price of everything going up these days, we may have to watch the temperatures in the house to keep the electric bill down. That may involve turning up the temperature on the AC. Can we stand it?

Even though the “old days” seem wonderful and many long to go back to those carefree days, I’m like my Mom — I prefer the modern times — especially with air-conditioning to beat the heat.


Be thankful! These are most definitely the “good old days”.

Retired as Associate News Editor, Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column for The Daily News. You can email her at