Staying Cool in the South

Good evening. Ya'll come on in the house and have a glass of tea. I have some store-bought cookies, which I know is not polite or Southern hospitality, but they are pretty good. They have that little bit of icing between the cookies and I still have to separate them and eat the middle first. This is just like I used to lick the icing bowl when mama made some icing and run my finger around the base of the cake and scoop the icing off and eat it. Of course this was done when mama wasn't looking or she would threaten to spank me. That was something I didn't take too seriously for she spanked me about 3 times a day just for good measure - not hard, just to remind me who was boss.

Wow, it has been another hot day and with the rain it is plumb muggy. Went outside for just a little while but not long for you would wilt like a dry daisy. I really like summer, but sometimes I just hibernate in the house and enjoy the air conditioning. It is a blessing to have AC and believe you me I know what it is not have it.

Back in the olden days when we were being raised up in Camden, AL, out in the country, it had not been invented. Our air conditioning was raise the windows and hope for a breeze, drink lots of cold water from the well, consume gallons of tea and ice, cold milk, and move rather slowly. You moved slowly and stayed in the shade as much as possible. You still worked up a sweat but not as much as if you stood out in the sun. Now all good southern boys and girls know you get sun stroke if you stand in the sun too long and only those who are slightly teched do that. In other words, those whose mama and daddy were too close kin, bless their hearts.

One other solution was to wear as few clothes as was decent. Now remember, my mama and daddy were trying to raise 2 gentlemen and 1 lady so there were certain dress rules but the boys could get by with less than I could. When it got hot, they shed clothes like a snake sheds its skin. They would run around nigh nekkid in shorts, undershorts and that's it! Of course the shoes were only worn on Sunday, weddings, funerals and other special occasions year round so they were already shed. They only put on a shirt if going to town or visiting and then if mama wasn't looking they would pull them off. They were brown as little Indians and twice as wild. I do believe Arvin would have pulled off all his clothes if mama would have allowed it.

Now Sam was another story. He was the modest one. If he was in their room or the bathroom and heard a footstep on the other side of the house he would start hollering, "I'm in the bathroom" or "Don't come in here, I don't have any clothes on." Now I'm not sure what his problem was for mama, daddy and I had changed his diapers and washed his naked body a plenty of times and he and Arvin bathed together to save warm water. Whatever the reason, if he didn't have on underwear and shorts at least, he would act like we were going to see something we never had seen before. Not sure what happened, but most of that modesty disappeared and now he like the rest of us, needs to stay covered.

My situation, being the girl and little princess, meant I had to be decent at all times. I could wear shorts and sun suits but both bottom and top had to be covered. Mama would make me cute little sun suits and little halter tops and these were quite cool and somewhat modest so it wasn't too bad. Didn't take much to make me some shorts and a halter top for I was a tiny little thing way back then. Even as a teenager I had no boobs or butt. Looked like a stick with long hair. Wonder what happened.

We did stay pretty cool at night though for daddy and somebody made us a WINDOW FAN. Now I put it in all caps for it was huge. In fact, it was so big we had to mount it on a shelf outside the bedroom window and when you turned it on it drew air all the way through the house. It looked like an airplane propeller encased in an open box with an airplane engine running it. Now I'm sure it wasn't that big, but near it.

You could turn that thing on, stand in the window where it was located and your clothes would almost be pulled off and your hair would be almost jerked out of your head. It only had one speed and that was high and high. It would cool that house good. At night, when it cooled off, you would be jerking up the cover and covering up your head you would be so cool.

Also, the sound was wonderful to lull you to sleep and I missed it when we had to cut it off. Not sure why the roar of a giant motor would lull you to sleep but during the night if it got too cool, daddy would cut it off and we would all wake up and holler, "Why, did you cut off the fan, I'm hot." Of course this was a tale for by then we were covered up head and ears.

Getting cool could always be accomplished somehow out in the country. We could go down and play in the creek with all the snakes or splash in the little bubbling spring. Summer showers were always wonderful to play in as long as it didn't storm. Mama would give us the shampoo and soap and after we played in the rain, we would wash off and wash our hair. Rainwater is a great, natural hair softener.

If there was no other option, we would run a tub full of water out by the well and play in the number three wash tub. If there is the will, there is always a way. Did we feel deprived? No. Did we feel poor? No. We had plenty and more and staying cool was minor. If all else failed, we took a cool bath, put on clean clothes and took a nap close to the window with The Giant Window Fan. That would always be cool and we would soon be cool and sound asleep, except for Sam. He wouldn't take naps but would lie there real still and quiet until mama went to sleep and heaven only knows what he did then for we don't.

Nuff said,

The Georgia Peach

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