August Window

Before air conditioning and before electric fans, people who lived in old houses with heat-trapping upstairs rooms relied on cool breezes and leafy shade to get them through hot summer days. My grandfather wore long underwear winter and summer. He coped with the dog days of August by moving slowly, keeping a cotton bandana around his neck, and wearing his summer underwear beneath denim overalls that had faded to the exact color of his blue eyes.

"August Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“August Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Sunday, August 9, 1914 – “A very warm day – sitting in the yard all day to get the breeze.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Thursday, August 4, 1921 – “This day much nicer, clear sunshine, floating clouds, much warmer and could enjoy sitting outside. Have been out most of the afternoon visiting with old friends…Ellen and children came out – spent the afternoon. It is her birthday (42 years). Men been picking apples. Brought in one load of hay.” – Lydia Jane Hall

See also:  April Window, May Window, June Window, July Window

On Monday:  The Cottage

7 thoughts on “August Window

  1. Michael Foster

    Oh, how well I remember those hot, still days. If we were lucky, we would get to go swimming at one of Farnam’s ponds. The upper pond was shallow and warm but easy to get in and out of, with what I remember as a sandy bottom. There were tremendous bull frogs along the shore and we could spend hours hunting them down and trying to hold them once we got stealthy enough to grab them. The lower pond was deeper and cooler, with steep sides that you had to scramble up and a muddy bottom. It boasted a fine rope swing that became the apparatus for aerial acrobatic contests as we got older. This pond also had more leeches than any other I’ve seen. We always checked each other over as we always felt sure that some were clinging to us (and sometimes they were!).

    The bedroom that Dave and I shared was upstairs in what had been the attic of my great-grandfather’s cottage. There was little insulation, no shade and only two small windows, so the heat built up all day long. When we were young, bedtime came before the sky was dark. The light outside only added to the feeling of slowly roasting and the sheets became damp with sweat. We rigged “tents” out of our top sheets that we attached to the window frames. We lay within them hoping to capture any cool breeze. My parents were firm in insisting that we “just go to sleep” but did allow us wet wash clothes and occasional ice cubes to try to combat the heat. Jill and I still don’t have air conditioning and if I ever feel sorry for myself on a muggy August night, I think back to those days and realize it could be worse.

    1. Carol Post author

      And I don’t think any of us are worse off for all those hot and sweaty summer nights we endured. I remember not being able to leave my light on to read because all the bugs would come in and gather around it.
      Your parents made do with alot of things about that sweet little house, which all seemed worth it because of its lovely setting and the spectacular view.
      I don’t think I ever swam in Farham’s pond. I was terrified of leeches and hated pond swimming. But I do remember frog hunting. The joys of a country childhood.
      Thanks again for the stories, Mike.

  2. Katy Gilmore

    I love these windows, as you know, and I’m tickled to see the little red wagon in this one. My husband’s family home is the only old house in my history – I loved that huge old house in Kansas. And in Kansas scorching August, the attic fan was always turned on — to help with the trapped heat you speak of. It rumbled through the night.

    1. Carol Post author

      We too had attic fans, and my mother spent her summer days, it seemed, opening and closing windows and adjusting shades to make the most of whatever cool air could be sucked in through the windows and maybe up from the basement. I don’t think they got an air conditioner until sometime in the 1980’s.
      I remember the quilt you made with pictures of that Kansas house. Wonderful.

  3. Pingback: November Window | On Whirlwind Hill

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