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Published on September 15, 2020

How hot was it?

It was also hot when we were growing up without A/C

By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin

It’s late summer in Texas, and when you walk out the door, the heat slaps you in the face like a preheated cast iron skillet. We’re all trying to beat the heat, but many old-timers remember when we just had to accept it.

Those who don’t have a sun blocker in the windshield of their car risk cooking their palms and fingers when grabbing the steering wheel. Unfortunately, it appears that September is not going to offer much respite from the blazing heat and humidity of the gulf coast, although a cool front sneaks through at times.

Heat advisories are the weather “du jour.” I try not to leave the house without a hat to cover my bald head, and the shade for my face and neck is a welcome benefit. Walking barefoot on driveways or sidewalks becomes a dance with hop-skip-and jump moves.

I think we are all looking forward to the all-too-few days of autumn. I am not a big fan of winters with northers featuring biting cold and ear-freezing temperatures. What would it take to have a month or two (or more) of 60- to 70-degree weather? Could we all forget political philosophies and lobby for those temperate days?

I have had an inside job (prior to retirement) for 50 years and have a great deal of empathy for the farmers (the ones who don’t have air-conditioned cabs on their implements) and ranchers (who actually exit their vehicles). There are still many jobs that require working in this heat.

Working with concrete, roofing a house, building fences, shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico, construction, petrochemical plants, plumbers, telephone and electrical lineman and many others must endure the heat, but it’s not new.

I can remember the early 1950s on the farm when we had the heat and drought combination. It was so dry that the senna beans’ seed pods sounded like finger castanets playing the song, “El Meringue.” No, the heat isn’t new, but it still seems to surprise every year when it strikes.

I (and I assume many others) seem to have selective memory when it comes to remembering those blazing days of summer one year to the next. I do, however, remember in my youth walking to town barefooted in the early summer over asphalt so hot it adhered to the soles of my feet.

It seemed like we had sandals built on for the summer. It got so hot, the watermelons had to have shade, or they spoiled quickly. Livestock and humans want shade and water - and lots of it.

We, older folks, lived in a world without air conditioning when we were young. The hot summers were tolerable in those times. In today’s world, our homes, cars, entertainment venues, restaurants are all air-conditioned. We find this makes it seem even hotter outside.

Many delivery truck drivers don’t use the air-conditioning in their vehicles, particularly if they have to exit at every stop and haul supplies in the heat. Anecdotally, the drivers believe the constant change in temperatures causes them to get sick. I’m not giving up my A/C, and would be sloth-like in the heat.

I’m willing to try anything to beat the heat. I’ve bought the misters, the personal fans and now the cooling hats (via Facebook). The personal A/C on Facebook couldn’t fool me - a glorified fan.

I’m still in the market for the next great thing to beat the heat. If you find it, please notify me, preferably in these dog days so I can give it a fair trial.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at eforbes1946@gmail.com or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)