Blue Blazes

by Stefani on 8-June-2009

I'm a ninth generation Texan. 

I consider this nothing short of a miracle. 

Blue Blazes

My great grandmother was in her 30s when she first got electricity. Sometime after that she got her very first electric refrigerator. 

In other words, at my age, she had no popsicles to pass out to heat exhausted kids… No blender to whip up some frozen cure-all at the end of a long hot day. 

It was a good while after that 'til they had air-conditioning. And even then it was just a window unit. 

How my ancestors managed to eek out a life, bear children and go on breathing through year after year of SIX month long summers I cannot fathom. However long summer seems to me (five more months!), how much longer it must have seemed when there were no ceiling fans in sight!

I don't THINK that my relatives ran around in their underwear all the time, but they DID live way out in the country so who knows… Maybe they were scandalizing the cows, hoeing rows in their drawers. 

In any case, I think of them, all nine generations of them, when I look at the forecast  - hovering near 100 all week, not a breath of air or drop of water in sight. 

I grab a glass of cold tea out of the fridge (what a wonder!) plop in a few ice cubes (ice! what luxury!) and I begin scheming.  Which one of our pool-owning friends or neighbors we can barge in on today?

Surely I will not wither and die. 

Surely not. 

I have Texas heat in my veins. 
Vintage Chica June 8, 2009 at 7:12 am

Lady we need to start comparing geneology charts.

Here’s to cool water and warm evenings!

Christina June 8, 2009 at 7:14 am

I can’t fathom life before AC. I had lived many years on the Coast of Mississippi, where the air is thick and hot. (Lived in Texas for a spell, too!) I can’t imagine….houses in the summer would be hotter than the outside.

BOATBABY June 8, 2009 at 7:15 am

Very cool!
I went through my entire pregnancy living on a sailboat in the muggy, hot Chesapeake Bay with no air conditioning (or hot water). We lived on that first boat for 6 happy years that way. Sometimes I wonder if I was just flush with pregnancy hormones and that made me not get overheated or WHAT?
This boat has 2 central a/c units, happily humming away.

Amber June 8, 2009 at 7:27 am

The thing that flabbergasts me is how people lived before indoor plumbing. Could you imagine toilet training a toddler in an outhouse? Or hand-washing cloth diapers? Eek!

Sending cool thoughts your way.

Mister Dad June 8, 2009 at 7:36 am

that’s funny. way before i had kids, i lived a few years up in the mountains with a bunch of Canadians and other internationals. i used to say i was Texan instead of American. once i came back home, i didn’t hafta qualify it. it’s inherently understood. ;}>

but recently, even though i raise them completely unbiased of gender, size, skin-tone, status, nationality, i’ve noticed my 9 and 10 year olds referring themselves the same way.

reckon it’s in their blood, too…

heather jane June 8, 2009 at 7:44 am

Yes. You will survive, but man, oh man. I do not envy you. I dread August all year long. Near 100 degree temps kind of make me want to cry. Heat and humidity are about the only things I don’t miss from my time in Arkansas.

I would enjoy the loooooong growing season, though. How nice to have a full blown garden feast already!

Here’s to drippy popsicles.

earthycraftymommy June 8, 2009 at 7:45 am

We’re planning on relocating south of here (Northern New England) to escape the long winters…but I’m scared of the long summers!! My husband thinks he wouldn’t mind, but I definitely get cranky when the mercury rises like it is there. Pretty sure we’ll end up smack dab center of the USA!

Wishing you cool breezes & welcoming friends–with pools 🙂

Visty Lindgren June 8, 2009 at 8:03 am

I firmly believe I suffer MORE now, in my airtight pacific northwest suburban fairly-newly constructed box on an 80 degree day than I ever did in my grandmother’s cement block one story in Florida in August. It was always cool in there. And in Florida, we were ten minutes from the beach. We took great advantage of that.

I do remember a great amount of suffering at night, trying to sleep in a 110 degree trailer, the tenth circle of Hell.

steadymom June 8, 2009 at 8:12 am

I lived in TX for three long summers, including one when I was 8 months pregnant and had the swollen feet to prove it.

Whew – that was some heat! But in December, it was quite pleasant!


amy June 8, 2009 at 9:04 am

girl. I just love you. Like a lot. I need to come to Texas! xo

Erin June 8, 2009 at 9:36 am

here’s to cool water to dip your feet in!

minnesota:madre June 8, 2009 at 11:09 am

And I complain about MN summers. I try to think of my grandparents on those hot days, too.

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Ha! Wouldn’t that be funny? I’m sure we’ve got some kin in common somewhere. Big as Texas is, you can hardly spit without hitting a relative :-).

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:14 pm

I saw a pretty cool article here:

… all about how energy efficiency was handled back in the day – how it’s changed and how it stands to change in the future. I thought it was kind of neat because I’d never considered how pre-electricity homes were built with the seasons in mind. How they faced, what colors they were pained, where the windows were placed, even what sorts of trees were encouraged nearby all had to do with keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Still… give me my AC. No amount of deep shaded porches has much power over the September sun in Texas!

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Hmmm… I guess it’s all in what you get used to.
I remember thinking it was hot, playing outside all day at my great grandmother’s farm in the summer, but I don’t remember thinking it was unbearable the way that I do now.

I heard somewhere though that after time your body readjusts to living in a new climate. Your veins will actually move closer to or father from the surface of your skin to better accommodate your surroundings. Weird, huh?

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Oh gosh… no, no I cannot imagine that.
And the two together… and outhouse in the dead heat of summer… nightmarish!

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Do they swagger and spit too? Cuz mine do. Must be somethin’ in the water 🙂

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Well there is that, to be sure.
You keep reminding me of the good parts, okay?

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Surely there’s some middle ground between choosing either 6 months of summer or six months of winter, right?

Where’s that mythical place we all learned about in primary school? The one where seasons last exactly 3 months each?

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Oh yea… I am convinced that it gets dark at night just so everyone can strip down to their scivies and lie like lumps in the heat!

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Oh! Thankfully I managed to only have to endure one summer while pregnant.
I ate a lot of ice cream.

I do mean a LOT of ice cream!

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Okay but come in March, alright?
Not summer. Dear God NOT summer!

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Feet, legs, knees, middle section, neck… if I could grow some gills I’d just stay submerged all summer!

Stefani June 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm

I kinda get the feeling mine were made of far stronger stuff than I am. Far.

Visty Lindgren June 8, 2009 at 12:26 pm

With the fan. On high. Blowing right on your body. All night.

Hannah June 8, 2009 at 12:49 pm

And just think of how many CLOTHES they used to wear! No shorts and tank tops, for sure! I think of that often and wonder how they did it. They’d be scandalized by our “necessary” summer attire, no doubt … but maybe a little jealous as well.

mommycoddle June 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm

all of a sudden my hot feels pretty cool.

genny June 8, 2009 at 1:40 pm

I added a little sidebar to my blog, something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, called “Vintage Vignettes” – any accounts on blogs I read that reach back in time to a little view out of our past. I read your post today and it inspired me to finally start this. I’d like to do more with it, I’ll see what I come up with. Anyhoo, your post today is my first on this list! I love imagining a time past. My mom’s family is from Texas and my aunt just got booted out when she lost her house to Hurricane Ike (lived near Galveston). It was awful for her but lucky for us…

I feel for you heat-wise, here in the northern Cal valley it gets to be over 100 for days at a time.

If you see any more “Vintage Vignettes,” please let me know or send them my way!!


gonzomama June 8, 2009 at 1:54 pm

i feel your pain. georgia summers are a bit too long for me.
am loving your new header!

melissa June 8, 2009 at 5:02 pm

stef, my family’s all loozianners, and they dealt with the heat and humidity by pulling the shades, reclining on the divan, and fanning themselves. Little electric fans before the AC. Lemonade. And I hear tales of cool washcloths against the back of their necks when it got too unbearable. I reach to turn on the AC when it gets to 80 in the house. Wimpy, I am.

Jonah Lisa June 8, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Ditto Eren about the geneology. My people are from Ft. Worth and Waco/West going way way back. And I agree that I never felt as hot ther as a kid as I do now as an adult. Sometimes walking outside feels like stepping into a pizza oven. That said, it was lovely in April.

chantelle June 8, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Interesting to read your post on a day that we got snow here in the Canadian Rockies. Granted that is unusually cold for this time of year…but it’s funny, how snow in June wouldn’t have phased me as a kid, but feels like an inconvienience as an adult. Reading all these comments almost makes we wish I was a kid again; that I could look in wonder at the stawberries and spinach under the snow…instead of freting over whether or not they’ll make it thru the night.

Marianna June 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm

I have it in my veins too, but that doesn’t change the fact that I DON’T LIKE IT!!!! We just moved back after ten years away (three years in Pennsylvania and 7 in Indiana.) Looking at those near 100’s for this week makes me wonder if I wasn’t insane for wanting to come back. Naw, it may be hot as blazes, but it’s Home and there isn’t a single other place like it!

Cassandra June 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Alright, mamacita, don’t think of the 5 months ahead. Think of the 5 months behind and how glad you are for the summer (or wait, maybe you only have a month of winter?) And then drink another glass of tea. I’ll drink one for you too.

Amy June 9, 2009 at 2:43 am

Even the hearty among us appears weak in the shadow of that history!

tara June 9, 2009 at 4:03 am

Give me the summers of Maine anyday!!

I did spend two years in Florida and that was enough to put me off. I shall not stray south again.

I did endure the absence of electricity or running water for two months last summer though- we camped out while we worked on our house. It was CHALLENGING to say the least. :0)

nytesong June 9, 2009 at 4:58 am

Hmmm…that water looks like a pretty fine way of keeping cool to me!

Stefanie June 9, 2009 at 12:31 pm

My family goes back several generations in Texas as well, and I think older generations must have been wired differently. I live in the Austin area now and was at a birthday party the other day. We were all in the shade in shorts and t-shirts sweating up a storm despite the slight breeze and iced tea. The birthday boy’s grandpa was sitting in the sun in pressed Wranglers and his starched LONG SLEEVE shirt without a bead of perspiration to be seen. How is that possible?

Jennifer June 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Well, there must be something good about the state to keep y’all there that long! I start complaining when the temp rises above 80. But we have a lot of grey and wet in western Washington. I know how to deal with that, but heat? Nope!

earthycraftymommy June 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Ooooh I’d love to find that place 🙂 But could it get…boring?!?

Sarah June 10, 2009 at 2:20 am

And I wonder how they managed up here in Vermont with no central heat. I see old photos of windows so encased in ice you can’t see out. I’d take a 6 month VT winter over a 6 month TX summer though 🙂

Kaci June 10, 2009 at 11:35 am

Hi, I am Kaci, also from Texas. I just found your site today and absolutely love it! So far, I’ve read three posts and am addicted. I was so happy with you on your article. I wept with your at the loss of your clucking girls. And at last, I feel your pain. Panicking at the loss of my Tahoe’s air conditioner compressor and facing a trip to San Antonio next month, I had to drop you a line. Thanks for sharing!!

Relyn June 10, 2009 at 7:23 pm

My family is from Texas and we’ve been planning a trip to see Grammy. Not in the summer – none of us is willing to head to Texas till October. Late September at the earliest.

Colleen June 21, 2009 at 7:33 am

This is something I’ve considered for a long time, and I only live in Iowa! Whenever I start whining too much (be it heat or cold), I remind myself that our ancestors wore many more clothes, and didn’t have the flick of a switch to rely on!

Did you see any of “Frontier House” on PBS? I laughed at the “scandalous” way they dressed!

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