Friday, July 22, 2011

Beat the Heat!

Last night online a genealogist  asked  "How did our ancestors survive heat waves?"  I know that when I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s no one in my neighborhood had air conditioning, not even in our cars!  How did we survive the occasional heat wave?  What did our ancestors do?

Herbert Robson and Helen Hitchings (my great aunt)
at the beach in 1925, Beverly, Massachusetts

1936 Heat Wave kills thousands, strengthens the Dust Bowl
People sleeping outdoors in St. Paul, Minnesota during the Great Depression
Photo from the St. Paul Daily News, Minnesota Historical Society
Photograph collection 7/1936 Location No. QC1.3r5

Beverly, Massachusetts Misery Island 1948
my Dad on the far left  

My mom on vacation at a pool in Mexico, 1959

Hanging out on the stoop in Beverly,
Three generations of the Allen Family 1967

Holden, Massachusetts Public Pool, 1972
my sister and I with neighbors 

My Dad and a neighbor, during a 1975 heat wave in Holden,
There's nothing like a sprinkler, lawn chair, and a cold beer!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Beat the Heat!", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 22, 2011, ( accessed [access date]).


  1. Great post! I love the photo of the people sleeping outside.

  2. I have often wondered this same thing. Especially the women who had to wear those long sleeved, high necked dresses way back before there were even fans! At least we can get away with minimal clothing on a hot day or just hang out inside in the air conditioning. As much as I often say I would like to go back just once and see how they lived, I could do without that!

  3. I've been thinking about my ancestors and the heat, too. I notice in your photos that everyone is leisurely staying cool, but some of my ancestors were farmer, and I still wonder how they managed.... Hot, hot, hot!

  4. I can remember when I was in college, I worked part-time as a cashier in a grocery store. We didn't have air conditioning in our house. There were many days that I looked forward to going to work so I could be cool.

  5. Really enjoyed your photos and what you wrote. Sure hope we don't have to experience that again any time soon.

  6. Water was essential to survival! We had no air conditioning growing up, but living on the New England Coast that was neither unusual nor a huge issue. More of an issue for my southern family. There they hosed us off a couple times a day or dumped buckets of water over us. We sat in bathtubs. Slept under dampened sheets. Or gave up the house all together and went up into the mountains.