Summer in the Sixties
When I was a child I didn’t mind the hot Australian summer so much. Nobody I knew had air conditioning, we kept cool with fans, which mostly just blew hot air over us. At school, if the temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit we were allowed to go home early as the school wasn’t air conditioned either. I remember how we looked forward to those days, getting out of school early was a treat. As the temperature climbed in the afternoons our teachers would schedule easier lessons. Sometimes several classes would be herded into the hall to watch films. They were educational but sometimes there might be a funny one as well.
In Grade 6, the class teacher was Mr. Scott. He was quite a young man, probably not long out of Teacher’s College and he was very good at art. He used to draw amazing murals on the classroom blackboard. In fact, other teachers would often ask Mr. Scott to come and draw something on their blackboards, that’s how good he was.
On really hot days when the temperature was in the nineties and we had not yet been told we could go home Mr. Scott would try to find ways to keep our class of forty or so kids busy. Sometimes he would read poetry to us, at other times he would send a kid to get the school record player and play some music. This was in the days before DVD’s and even before VCR’s. He’d then let us get out the art materials and paint. He’d encourage us to think about cool things and it mostly seemed to work.
Once we were allowed to go it would be a hot walk home but there would be a cold drink or maybe even an iced lolly waiting. Our house in Elizabeth had a concrete floor in the laundry and two old cement wash troughs. Naomi and I often played in there on hot days as it seemed cooler than the rest of the house.
Now I’m older I find that I don’t deal with the heat all that well and rather than being fascinated by the idea of the temperature reaching a century I dislike the really hot days. I’m glad that I don’t have to sit in a hot classroom anymore but those afternoons were fun; sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Mr. Scott.
Here in Germany we had a word called “Hitzefrei”, which literally translated meant something like “Heat free” or “Heat free time”. So, it means we could stay at home… or if we already were at school and it got too hot at noon, they did send us home. It either happened in that case, or in winters when snow storms were severe because no buses would drive anymore in the city, although that was more common and did of course not have the name “Hitzefrei”.
But talking about the too hot days, it was always funny because if we got free time, we went home and knew our friends from other schools would most likely have “Hitzefrei” too. So, we met on the local soccer fields and played soccer, no matter how hot it was… you make use of a free day as a kid 🙂 If it really was way too hot for that too, it was beach time. I still remember how full the trains to Travemünde have been during these days, and how full the beaches were.
So, it could even get pretty hot in my childhood. But it’s a lot more common today, and a lot more severe. Or I think the real difference is that it now can be hot way longer… like weeks and months drought as with the last years. You know my blogpost complains 😀
It was interesting to read your memories Vanda. It’s always good to write down these things. I am one of those persons who likes to remember back too, sometimes I daydream about things that happened in my life. This goes back to my childhood too, while I have some friends who generally can’t remember things that happened two decades ago, and some that are not interested in the past and prefer to talk about things in the present. Maybe I am a daydreamer 😀 Or is this a symptom of blogging?
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I think you are correct Dennis. The difference in the climate today is that the extreme hot spells are more frequent and last longer. When I decided to do this challenge I was actually going to write about that. You and I both hate the heat. However, I started to think about hot days when I was a child and those hot afternoons in school came to mind. I did really like that teacher, he was one of the good ones. I don’t think the heat did make me as uncomfortable then, kids always find the energy for things they want to do.
Some people like to reminisce about the past. Naomi and I certainly do and believe me you do forget so I think talking about those times keeps it in your memory better. Other people are happy to live in the present and that’s fine for them. I don’t think it is a symptom of blogging but perhaps it is something that attracts people like us to blogging. We want to tell our stories.
Vanda I did comment previously but it is not on your post. It is the case of the missing comment. Someone else is going to get a surprise. 🙂 Just said that it was never hot enough for me to get the day off, but I never lived in SA.
I love this type of post, too. It is fun to read about how others coped, generally pretty much just like we did, and go back in time. I have never been a lover of scorching heat. Before school let out in the summer it was hard to sit still and concentrate and the teachers were as glad as the students once the day was over.
As a child we would take a cool bath before supper and put on fresh clothes. Our basement was cool with low humidity, and we had a table and chairs there and often ate meals in the evening downstairs. Salads, something off the grill, simple meals were made to keep the kitchen cooler. My mother had a green glass “Kool Aid” type pitcher and tumblers with a “Bicycle Built For Two” motif on them which she kept filled with Kool Aid. I looked forward to the ice cream man after dinner. Six cents bought a cherry popsicle and a piece of bubble gum. My parents and neighbors would sit on their patios with a cold drink. Kids played until the street lights came on. I can remember my mother telling me not to let the fan….this tiny little osculating thing, blow directly on me because I might catch cold at bedtime. 😉
I loved going into Woolworths because the air conditioning was so cold! It was wonderful to walk into any air conditioned store….not all of them were, even then. Coming back out you got hit in the face with that warm summer sun, but by then you were so cool it wasn’t so bad.
By the time I was a teenager we had central air conditioning. Now I don’t know how I would cope without it. I want to be where ever the air conditioning is when summer heat hits.
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I remember my mother saying something similar about draughts from fans. Ice cream was a treat then not a regular dessert. We had “cool pops” I think they were called tubes of frozen cordial that were sold in plastic wrap and kept in the freezer. Mum would give them to us on hot days to suck like an iced lolly.
Since it was only a slight warm breeze it would have been hard to get too cold from those little fans, but I guess mothers were always on the lookout for problems. I remember those ice tubes that came in different flavors that were bought as liquid and popped in the freezer. My mother made iced pops from Kool Aid at times.
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