Beating the heat in 1948

Ed Rood

Hot? You think it’s hot now? You should have been around in 1948. Heck, this isn’t even warm.

Yep, that’s what we old-timers say when the temperature swells to the plus side of 90 degrees. The date may differ, but the sentiment is always the same.

The main difference between the hot days in the old times and the ones we suffer through now is air conditioning. Back then, about the only cooling device available was a fan. We would huddle around one like folks do around pot-bellied stoves in the cold of winter.

I remember how I fought an especially hot spell back in 1948. It was the 4th of July and the weather was as smoldering as a fuse on a firecracker.

Although I was only 8 years old, I can still recall my parents taking me to Sheldahl for the big parade. By 10 a.m., the sun was so fierce the horses were soaked with sweat as they pranced down main street.

Mom was thinking ahead when she prepared a thermos of lemonade, but I polished it off before we hit the outskirts of town.

I complained about the heat until I remembered the rides in the park. Suddenly the temperature seemed to moderate as I began to suggest how much nicer it would be in the shade of the park.

My folks had been around long enough to know what I had in mind. They probably figured it would be better to get the trip to the rides over with, rather than wait until the afternoon when it would be even hotter.

The park wasn’t much cooler, but worth the trip as we came across a stand that helped inspire a real brainstorm.

The sorriest clown you’ve ever seen was perched on the seat of a dunk tank. Every time someone hit the bulls eye with a baseball, the clown would get soaked. Someone next to me remarked how the clown was the only one who was comfortable.

That sent the wheels in my mind whirling. After a couple of cotton candies and a few rides on the Ferris wheel, I was ready to go back home. It didn’t take long to convince my parents that it was time to depart.

The wheels of the car had barely come to a halt before I was out and running toward my room. My parents hadn’t quite reached the house when I rushed past them, running for the backyard in my swimsuit.

I ran to the garage, grabbed Dad’s trusty shovel and made tracks for my sandbox.

I proceeded to dig out most of the sand. I used the sand to reinforce the wooden frame of the sandbox from the outside. Next I grabbed the garden hose and started filling my makeshift swimming pool.

And that’s the way I spent that particular 4th of July. Looking back now, I can’t help but wonder if air conditioning would have made that day more enjoyable. I doubt it.

Ed Rood is former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.