Keeping Cool the Old fashioned Way

Keeping Cool the Old fashioned Way

Posted by Vivian Vassar on 12th Jul 2019

Summer is here in NYC and air conditioners are going full blast. I'm trying to plan my day around the heat by getting to work early and getting the packing done.  Our shipping area doesn't have AC so in the morning I put the music on and get ready to pick and pack as fast as possible so I can escape back into the cool office.

Speaking of escaping the heat - Have you ever wondered how people kept cool before air conditioning ?   Here are a few ways that I am familiar with and that my mother, who is 92, has spoken about:

Ice - people harvested ice in the winter months and stored it in ice houses with straw to minimize melting.   In the summer you could hang out in the ice houses, put some of the ice in a tub and have a fan blow air over it to spread the cool air. Or hang wet curtains in the window and the evaporation would cool the air.

High Ceilings - Older houses were built with high ceilings because heat rises and helps to cool rooms which were often kept dark to further cool things down.

Cotton Clothing - Clothing made of light cotton in light colors helped keep people comfortable.  Fabrics were developed to deal with heat such as "Seersucker which is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places. This feature causes the fabric to be mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating heat dissipation and air circulation. It also means that pressing is not necessary."*

Movies - when air conditioning became available movie theaters in the 1920's people flocked.  The theaters boasted of 'Refrigerated Air' or 'Scientifically Cooled'.  For a low sum you could spend all day watching movies and escaping the heat.