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Right in my Own Backyard - Beat the Heat - by Brandt Carter
posted: Jun. 23, 2022

Right in my Own Backyard header

Beat the Heat

Summer heat has always been a topic of conversation. While talking around the table after a family dinner recently, someone commented, "Remember when we didn't have air conditioning?" Before we could ponder if heat was more tolerable in the good old days, my sister-in-law quipped back, "Yes, and you spent ALL day trying to keep cool!"
Not only is air-conditioning now a given for summertime in Indiana, I, also, see magazine ads for patio fans. These fans, whether high-tech rotors or equipped with misters, remind me of my first experience with a fan, still in my memories of childhood. The fan was a rubber-bladed desktop fan. It was my mother's answer to concern for our safety. She worried that we might cut our fingers on metal fan blades. Feeling duly protected, we proceeded to take turns putting our hands into the rubber blades to stop the electric fans. "Look Mom, no cuts!"
There were other measures that brought comfort in the pre-air-conditioning era: galvanized metal swimming tubs and the garden hose; paper fans on a stick with a funeral home ad on one side and a full-color picture on the other; big blocks of ice that we chipped with a pick; popsicles made with fruit juice; and the shade of big trees. At night when the fireflies glowed outdoors and heat blanketed my bedroom, I'd wet a wash cloth and wrap my forehead for a "cool down."
The ultimate delight was the cool-off ride at dusk. Mom and Dad would pile all three pajama-clad kids into the trusty Oldsmobile and drive around the city until evening air eased the heat's discomfort. These were the days when gas was less than 50 cents a gallon. Although it is fun to reminisce about ways we beat the heat as a child, I don't know that I would want to turn back the hands of time. I enjoy today's comforts and traveling down memory lane without breaking a sweat.

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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