FIRMLY FOUNDED DOG DAYS OF AUGUST 2010
My wife and I have been down and out with sinus infections the last couple of weeks due to the oppressive heat and sweltering humidity of Ohio in August………..Oh, wait a minute, it has been like this since June and it is only July 23rd as I write this. Suzi
Rubin and I just finished a conversation pertaining to this dilemma and it brought back fond memories of yesteryear. In this day and age, Wifey and I cannot survive (or won’t) the tremendous heat of these months without living in the air conditioning, in the car, in Church, at Kroger and Cintas, where we work, and, most especially, at home. Suzi relayed to me that they live in a very old house, with eleven foot ceilings, so a lot of what we deal with was naturally accomplished in past centuries, when it came to surviving the heat. As a child in the small Butler County village where I grew up, we had high ceilings that kept the hot air “up there” and allowed the front door in the living room and the back door in the dining room to stay open, to cause a natural flow of wind, thus keeping you comfortably cool. The third story was a full attic that we stayed out of during the summer. I believe I could have baked brownies or fried an egg on the floor up there. There were three monster oak trees, one over the wrap-around front porch, one above the back of the kitchen, and one in the back yard that shaded two of the four bedrooms. I can’t even imagine getting away with leaving all of the doors and windows open in this day and age, but that is what we did 60 years ago, and from what the family has told me, the same applied when they were little, which would be more than a hundred years ago. The screens kept the bugs out and the front and back porches kept the rain from coming in, even in a torrential downpour. We had a “Mammy bench” rocker on the front porch that I used to curl up and nap in whenever I got tired of whatever mischief I was causing on that specific day. One of my sisters is now the proud recipient of that piece of history. It is somewhere around 150 years old. (another ten years and it will catch up with me) I kept my rock cowhorn, Indian flintheads, and trolibite collection on the back porch, next to the cushioned metal swing. On nice evenings, sometimes Mom would allow me to sleep there, since it was screened in. Glad Grandpa had sense enough to buy and expand that old house after he sold the farm. My bedroom was one of the back rooms, so I would leave all three of the windows and my bedroom door open as did my two sisters, and Mom. (Dad worked midnights at the Champion in Hamilton) All of the doors downstairs were open, so we had a really cool breeze that allowed us to even need covers on most summer nights, in order to stay comfortable. I thank God every day for the man who invented screen wire for windows and doors, but that is a story for another day. If we were of a mind, a bunch of us boys would hop into Glens’ 57 Ford convertible and head for Dry Fork Creek, Indian Creek, or Kiatta Creek, or maybe one of the many local ponds, to while away the summer afternoon, swimming, sunning, and trading tall tales, most of which weren’t exactly lies, but they sure were exaggerated some. If Glen wasn’t around, then it was to Weaver’s Pond or Big Paddy Creek on our bikes, cause we didn’t want to pedal that far in the heat.
After the sun was finished baking us, of course, we would usually play ball at the school yard until dark, then, if we were allowed, Kick-the-Can or bicycle tag around the whole village until our parents ran us in for the evening. The only downside to all of this is that there came a time when Dad made me go to work for a farmer friend of his for 25 cents an hour, just to keep me off the streets and out of trouble. Now I ask you, was that fair??? It wasn’t the money, it was the keeping me from playing that I groused about.
Cutting weeds on a fenceline, baling hay, taking care of the chickens and pigs, and working in the orchard was hot work on a Ohio summer day….but that watermelon and homemade ice cream that Ace Purdy fed me, plus hitting the creek after sweating all day did kinda make up for the rest of it, not to mention the fried chicken and all the fixins that Mrs Purdy spread out for all of us to feast on at dinner time, after a hard day in the field.
While in the Air Force, I spent a year in Turkey, and traveled part of the path to Tarsus, where Paul was said to have preached. I noticed the rock hill outcroppings with caves in them. I was a little amazed that people lived in them due to the fact that they maintained an even temperature throughout the year, but southern Turkey also doesn’t have our winter. Maybe some of the old ways are not all bad.