Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What did we do?

What did we do to keep cool before all homes were cooled with central air, or before that window air conditioners? 

What did we do before we could head to the library on the pretense that we were going to read, when in fact we just wanted to keep cool?

What did we do before there were malls in which to roam about, which were air conditioned?

How did we survive the 4/60 air conditioning coolant we had in our autos back then (four windows, 60 mph)?

I'll tell you what we did.

The church where dad was pastor had a basement.  It wasn't air conditioned, but it was much cooler than outdoors or upstairs or in our house, so we did indoor things down there.  DVBS was held in the basement as well, so we didn't swelter in the late June heat.

We sat on the front porch and prayed for a breeze which made us feel cool.

We dipped a wash cloth in cold water and wrapped it around our neck.

We didn't move once we found a "cooler" position in which to sit or sleep.

That's what we did.

 I am so thankful that we have an air conditioned home and an air conditioned automobile.  I am so pleased that I can drive to an air-conditioned restaurant in my air-conditioned car, which sits in my cooler-than-the-driveway garage, and which cools very nicely by the time I am ready to back out of the garage.

I'd be interested to know what you all did to keep cool back in the days before A/C was a common commodity.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It's the middle of the summer and some people have already taken a vacation and others are going to go somewhere in the few weeks left before school starts -- which isn't the end of summer, at least not where we now live.

When I was growing up, one week vacations were a rarity, at least in my neighborhood. 

My family rarely had a vacation.  My father was absent from the pulpit one Sunday a year and that was to speak at a Bible conference in North Jersey.  He left the family at home, and the vacation we had was a week without daddy, and that wasn't a vacation, certainly, for my mother.

During that week, however, we went to the shore with Uncle Joe and Aunt Annie for one day of fun in the sun; or we went to visit Aunt Annie at her house in Springfield, PA for a couple of days.  My sister and I absolutely loved the room in which we were placed.  It had a double bed in it, but it had VENETIAN BLINDS. 

I know lots of you are saying, "So what?"  Well, we had a blast with those blinds (we had shades in our house).  We would raise them and lower them, or change the slant of the blind to allow us to get the most light in the room.  And...

The room had a DORMER.  That was our little playhouse.  We played with our dolls in that part of the room and we didn't really want to go outdoors to play, even though it was pretty warm in that upstairs bedroom.

My mother and brothers had the room across the hall, which was larger, but didn't have the dormer.

One year someone gifted our family (without my father who was at the Bible Conference in northern NJ) to a week at a Bible camp in Maryland -- they sent me to the girls' camp.  I hated it.  I was sure no one liked me because I was there for only a week and the others in my cabin were all there for the whole summer.  I finally had my mom pull me from the camp about the fifth day, when there was only one left.

The two years I was a camp counselor I paid close attention to the girls who might feel left out or who were very homesick and I tried to make them happy.

After I married, because my husband and I had so little money, we spent our vacations at "home" with my mom and dad, taking a day to go to the shore, or taking the train into Philly to visit the sites there.  One year we lost my son.  He was five.  But, he found a policeman, and was reunited with us quickly.

One year we were invited to spend a week with Alan's aunt at Lewes Beach, DE.  That was a great vacation.  Very sandy.  She and I canned green beans and Alan took the children to the beach.  That was okay with me, since I was able to take enought canned goods home to keep us fed for quite a bit

Are you thinking you don't get a vacation?  Take day trips.  They add up, and they are inexpensive.  There are so many free things to do no matter where you live.

This is a picture of the family in 1978, two years after we started traveling from Cincinnati to Runnemede at least one time a year, encountering massive traffic jams on the PA Turnpike (nothing has changed there) and I won't even go to the Schuylkill Expwy traffic, although it wasn't as bad back in the late 70s and early 80s as it is now.

Phil was 9, Cyndi (between Alan and me) was 5, and Becky was 7.  Aren't the kiddies cute?



Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's hot

I've been thinking about the heat we are suffering through, and how it was when I was growing up.  You all know, of course, that we had no air conditioning.  My father didn't like it.  He tried it once (after I had married and moved out and got used to having it in my own home) and after only one day he decided it was too cold in his favorite room, and the cool air didn't filtrate into the bedroom, which he only used between midnight and 8:00 a.m.

So, how did we manage back then?  I'm not sure.  I remember a few days of egg frying heat, but it seems to me that we coped by not doing anything but sitting in the shade on the front porch, and waving a fan in front of our faces.

I personally have never liked the heat.  In fact, you could say that I hate the heat.  I love winter.  Cold weather.  Icicles.  Snow.  Tires crunching on a snow-covered street.  Yes, I'm ditzy.  I do like winter.

I also remember many hot days when I was growing up and I would just go into my bedroom, pull down the shades, make the room dark, and take a nap.  In some countries they call it a siesta.  I do know I made sure my summer piano lessons were at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. because it was a cooler time of the day and I had to walk 8 blocks to get there.  That tip was given to me by my friend Linda, who also took piano lessons from the same teacher.  Yes, I had to get up early on those mornings, but it was worth it.

Our town had no pool.  The Lake was closed a couple of seasons after it opened.  There was a pool in Haddonfield where you could swim all day for 50 cents, but it was a four mile walk (or bike-ride).  I think by the time I discovered the Haddonfield pool, I was too grown up to ride a bicycle.  I guess I believed that only kids rode bikes.

So, the heat we have now is bad.  If I didn't live in an airconditioned home I would, I'm afraid, be certifiably crazy. 

Out here in northern Kentucky, we had over 100-degree temperatures all last week, and the weather folks told us it was going to cool down.  Well, it cooled down to 90-degree temperatures. Tomorrow it supposed to rain and we're only supposed to get up to 88.  Folks, to me, that still too hot. 

The thing that bums me out is that I haven't been able to enjoy my sun room, which isn't air conditioned, since mid-May. 

I have noticed that it's getting darker each day, which means the temperature is lowering earlier each day and it's getting warmer later each day, so there is coolness coming.  Hang tough, you all.  (You all is as southern as I get.)