Some of us remember BAC when (Before Air Conditioning) there was no relief from the Texas heat. I think it was just as hot fifty years ago as it is now, although there are those global-warming pundits who would disagree.
I was working around the house recently when I noticed that the air felt heavy and still. With a sense of dread, I checked the thermostat and it read 80 degrees. Now we usually keep it set around 76. My husband checked and determined that our unit was low on Freon.
Having filled it up, it seemed okay until later that day and the warming trend began again. Uh-oh, it was time to call the experts. Sure enough, the coil was shot. Given the price to replace it, we decided to go ahead and buy a whole new unit. Think $$$$$. But at this point, I would pay anything to have my air back.
I soldiered through the whole day, but only because I sat in front of three fans and hardly moved around. Then we powered up our travel trailer and slept out there for two nights in the AC.
How did our ancestors manage to work and live in that heat? They did a lot more physical work than us since they had to do everything by hand. And way back, the women wore long dresses and petticoats. Of course, a lot of them died young, but I don’t think the heat did them in. When we don’t have AC for a day or two we think we are going to die.
In my childhood, we had a huge attic fan in the hallway ceiling. We left all the windows open so it could suck in air from the outside. To cool it even further, my mother would water the grass and flowerbeds outside the windows to create a swamp-cooler effect.
Of course, cars did not have air conditioning either. There were little triangular windows called wing vents set in the bottom forward corner of the front windows. You could turn them inward and channel the fresh air to blow right on you. That was the best you could do, other than have all the windows rolled down. And of course when the car stopped, the air stopped, too.
I guess the way we survived BAC then was that our bodies were acclimated to the heat and did not crave the cool air like we do now. You don’t miss what you never had. It is like money; if you never had much, you don’t miss it. But once you have a lot, then you think you can’t live without it.
So now when I open the door and come in from outside, I breathe in the cool air and thank the Lord for the invention of air conditioning. And it reminds me that we take so many things for granted until we don’t have them. Of course, that translates into all the blessings in our lives.
A former longtime Baytown resident, Ginger Stripling now lives in Mont Belvieu. She can be reached at email@example.com,
Attention: Ginger Stripling.