I Remember A World Without Air Conditioning

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By John Hubbuch

1312 Indiana Avenue in New Albany Indiana where I lived from 1949 to 1962 was not air conditioned until 1959, and even then the cool extended only to the living room and my parents' bedroom. My dad must have believed that children were to be seen, not heard and to sweat. My brother Bob and I shared an attic bedroom where we sweated together.  

Southern Indiana summers are hot and humid. We did have a big fan that could be positioned to blow directly on you, but many nights I would just lie awake sweating. Usually after midnight a measure of coolness seeped in, and I would fall asleep.                                 

We were not alone. Hardly anyone had A/C. The movie theater, Sears and the department store had air conditioning, but that was about it. I suppose  having  no air conditioning made you tough, but I really think it just made you sweat. To this day I have an aversion,  bordering on fear of hot humid weather. And it's only July 10. I think I'll just hibernate until September. Damn the electric bill. I'm cranking up the A/C.

Reader Comments

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Dave Coulter  

Posted: July 16th, 2012 6:34 PM

Yeah, we also had one of those giant fans at the top of our staircase!

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: July 16th, 2012 6:08 PM

No AC until into the 1970s. But we had a giant "reversible" window fan in the upstairs hall window. My dad had a "system" for when it was pulling cool air in and when it was sucking hot air out. God bless him. He really thought his system worked. Best thing about the fan was kneeling in front of it and screaming through the spinning blade and hearing your voice chopped up. Simpler days for simply entertained kids.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: July 16th, 2012 4:50 PM

We only had one fan between the two bedrooms. My mom tried to convince the kid who had the fan facing away from his/her room that it was ok because the fan was pulling the hot air out of the room - sure Mom...my brother wound up buying a fan with his First Communion money so he wouldn't have to share anymore.

Dave Coulter  

Posted: July 16th, 2012 3:40 PM

Similar story here. The primary way we cooled off was to sit out on our screen porch. We lived out there in the summer, and when I was a kid would sometimes sleep out there too. Unfortunately the modern world seems to prefer decks now - much cheaper but not the same, eh? However, I do like my AC. I work outside quite a lot and it helps when I can sleep at night.

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