Hot weather advisory
By Clif Knight
This week is supposed to bring us the hottest weather of the year: 100-plus temperatures Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with humidity levels thrown in. What can be done to keep cool? Stay inside if possible and use the air conditioner or heat pump.
I’m reminded how difficult it was to stay cool when I was a kid growing up on a farm in the 1940s and 1950s, where there was no air conditioning or electric fans. With the cook stove going, it was hotter inside than outside.
Four of us boys slept together in a west-facing bedroom. Our two double beds were pulled together in front of a west-facing screened window. Our heads were positioned as close as possible to the window; however, we didn’t allow our bodies to touch. On the hottest days, we didn’t get to sleep until after midnight when the room began to cool. When worst came to worst, we’d stretch out on the front porch and sleep on top of a couple of quilts.
The heat took its biggest toll on the mules and plow hands from sunup to sundown. Boys would work bareheaded, barefooted and barebacked without taking more than a 10-minute break to rest the mules and cool off. They took an hour for lunch and plowed until sundown before quitting for the day. The mules were fed and watered before returning to the field and the boys took a brief dip in a dammed-up pasture branch.
The last days of June were among the busiest days on the farm. Both cotton and corn were tilled for the last time and laid while awaiting harvest. The big push was gathering watermelons and cantaloupes and getting them to market.
The canning and preservation of peaches, apples, berries and beans continued into the hot days of July and August with much of the preparatory work being done in the cooler confines of porches and shade trees.
With the hottest days of summer yet to come, the best advice is to use precautions when working outside and being exposed to the heat. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur with little advance notice. Wear a hat, loose-fitting clothing and drink plenty of water or liquids when working outside.