- Last Updated on 08:17 AM 06/25/14
- BY Doug Ford
My stint as a re-enactor at the Battle of Staunton River Bridge on Saturday reminded me of how “soft” I’ve become in my old age.
Wearing wool britches, a vest, suspenders and cap in 90-degree heat and humidity wasn’t anywhere close to what the old men and young boys went through in defending that bridge 150 years ago.
I didn’t like wearing wool pants while growing up for that very reason, for the scratchy feel of wool on my bare skin, and I wore them only on orders from my mother – to look nice – as she put it.
But, that was during the winter, which made it more bearable, contrary to summertime.
Prior generations didn’t have the benefit of air conditioning, and we didn’t have central air installed at my house until the late 1960s.
Before then, air conditioning for us consisted of leaving the windows open in the house to get a cross-breeze going, and using the old-fashioned electric fan if we had one.
The sound of a fan actually produced enough “white noise” to lull someone off to sleep, and a late night cool down actually meant a sound night’s sleep.
Good thing, too, because there was no sleeping late at my house, even in the summertime, as work in the garden beckoned.
An early breakfast was followed by a march to the garden for a round of pulling grass, digging potatoes or picking butterbeans or snaps before the temperature rose.
People didn’t seem to mind the heat so much back then, and I guess they were just more acclimated to it than we are today.
I admit my first impulse when arriving at a hotel room while away from home in the summer is to turn down the thermostat, since electricity is on someone else’s dime, so the brownouts you may see in Richmond on occasion may be my fault.
Next time I whine about the heat, I’ll try and remember that some others may not have it so good.