WHEEILING, W.Va. (WTRF) In scorching hot weather, we sometimes wonder what people did before air conditioning.
So we went to the experts!
A group of residents of Elmhurst in Wheeling, now in their 80s and 90s, still vividly recall how their families managed to survive the summer heat in the era before AC was invented.
They were unanimous in their answer—they used the rhythms of nature to keep cool.“Our home was surrounded by maple trees,” recalled 95-year-old Rachael Davis.
“So we always had nice cool shade.”
“I remember my mother always saying that we will close all the blinds in the daytime and open them back up as soon as the sun goes down,” said 87-year-old Shirley Milton.
“And that’s what we did.”
“I remember one night it was so hot, my mother and I slept on the living room floor with the door open,” said Naomi Parks Lowe Hupp, 99.
“We’d open up the windows and lay under a shade tree,” said 96-year-old Bertha Sacco.
“At night, we’d lay on a blanket outside and watch the stars.”
“We had a cellar that was very cool at night,” added Rachael Davis.
“The windows would be open to let in the night air.”
They all said their families made the most of screened doors and windows.“Of course the air would flow through,” said 96-year-old Dorothy Sullivan.
“We had two nice large porches and we’d go there to keep cool.”Naomi Hupp’s father owned a confectionary.
“About every Sunday, he would make ice cream,” she said. “That was a real treat.”
They all shared childhood memories of playing in creeks or finding shady places.
“We would play underneath the house,” said Rachael Davis. “It was all sand under there. We would play in that sand with cars or whatever, build roads with toothpicks. It was so nice and cool under there.”None of them lamented the lack of air conditioning.“We just didn’t mind back then,” said Dorothy Sullivan.
“It was just nature, I guess.”