Humor, Life
Comments 8

I am a heat-born invalid.

The dogs and I visit the sere back lawn a few times a day. When we can’t stand it anymore, we slump back inside through the furnace that is the kitchen, trudge up the stairs and head back into our master bedroom sequester.  The air conditioner is in there.

For a week I’ve been running my professional life from my bed surrounded by notes, books, and computers – I am a heat-born invalid. Across the hall my office reaches 86, , 88, 90 degrees as the afternoons progress and the high humidity threatens to reanimate the long dead, road-kill flattened, dried frog hanging on my office wall. A zombie frog. That might be interesting. I would be too hot to run away.

Old houses were designed to draw breezes, to vent, to cool themselves in summer. So I’ve been told, so I’ve read. It isn’t true. I think the old timey folks created this mythical cannon to convince themselves that they weren’t miserably sweaty and uncomfortable in their endless layers of wool, cotton, silk.





It seems no coincidence to me that the window A/C unit became commonly available in the 1930s – exactly when clothing shifted from breathable natural fibers to rayon, nylon, viscose. Rashy families cooking in their summer plastic wrap probably would have sold their children to get relief from the soul-sucking heat.

Sweaty and rashy.

Sweaty and rashy.

Sweaty, rashy, and quite probably stinking of bourbon.

Sweaty, rashy, and quite probably stinking of bourbon.

If there are ghosts in my 104 year old heatsink of a house, they are likely in here with me, hogging all the cool, fresh air.

(*All images from the NYPL Digital Collections: Digital image identifying numbers in order of appearance: 816671, 816553, 1599845, 1599912.)


  1. It is amazing how poorly our house ventilates itself. Maybe back when our house was first built and you could actually open all 37+ windows, it was able to cool itself more easily? Unfortunately over the past 104 years some of those windows have become painted shut. This weekend I am going at those painted shut windows and freeing them from the tyranny of the dried paint.

  2. danny says

    Hmmm, if there were ghosts present, wouldn’t you feel a chilly breeze or something? On a side note, i like yor photo references.

    • Well now that’s just it – it is so stuffy in the house that even the ghosts are desperate. If only I could use them as an eco-friendly cooling tech! Thanks for stopping by WEF.

  3. Dwain says

    Caroline, you did a wonderful job at the “50 years of Funk” extravaganza…amazing!

  4. Memories of WideEyedGreatGrandfather riding the Reading Railroad home to his suburban Philadelphia home after a stress-filled day in crowded, smoke-filled, grinding, dusty, oven-like rumbling passenger cars in mid-August, wearing his formal thick black wool 3 piece senior executive suit then walking up the long hill from station to house in baking sunlight looking, forward to working in his garden. It’s doubtful that he ever broke a sweat. All this about the time that 104 year old house was quite young.

    • Maybe all those layers acted as some kind of weird a/c. Or, the house was so much cooler than the smokey office and train car…I wonder if WideEyedGG ever had reason to travel to Buffalo – a lot of business people did back then…

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