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Seniors reminisce on life before air conditioning

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Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 18, 2019

LANSING, Mich. — You could sit back, kick your feet up and enjoy the air-conditioning inside, completely ignoring the outside elements. But seniors who lived at a time when there wasn’t such a thing, shared with FOX 47 what it was like.

“You’d put your head by the window see if you could breathe in some air,” said 72-year-old Linda Cleveland.

You never know what you really have until you’ve had to live without it -or so the saying goes.

“If it got too hot they used to have little things that you tie around your neck soak it in water. Kept you a little cooler,” said 89-year-old Lois Dyer.

“If we had a fan we’d turn it on but there’s usually only one and it didn’t help you at night because it’s only one,” added Cleveland.

95-year-old Loyal Dean shared similar sentiments.

“We just sweat it out.I mean we would perspire a lot so we just had to endure,” he said.

82-year-old Bo, had different tactics.

“Get the parents or grandparents to buy us a Pepsi Cola,” Bo said.

Their stories beg the question of what would you do if there was no air conditioning at all?

“You could always go swimming but I can’t swim,” Dyer offered, adding a long chuckle.

Nelda Rehm has lived all over the country. From Florida to California, she’s seen extreme heat.

“I drank a lot a lot of water. It was hot I was sweating a lot.”

These seniors have been-there-done-that. When Bo was a kid he lived off the water in sunny North Carolina.

“We had places to go where we go under the bushes and things where there was no sun,” explained Bo.

And Loyal Dean says he grew up on a farm where he couldn’t avoid the outdoors if he wanted to.

“We suffered,” said Dean. “I lived on a farm and we didn’t have the air conditioning on our farm in the house and we just put up with the hot weather.”

Just put up with it?

“I’m cold-blooded so the heat doesn’t really bother me,” said Dyer.

Once considered a luxury air conditioning has become Essential.

“It’s a blessing God provided air conditioning for us,” said Dean.

Air-conditioning was invented in 1902 by engineer William Carrier. They started off large and expensive. They didn’t become widespread in most homes until the 1960s.

“It spoiled people,” Dean said.

Bo said he’s one of those people.

“I haven’t been paying attention to the heat until I got used to air conditioning. Now the heat bothers me,” said Bo.

But once you’ve got it. You can’t live without it.

“Of course there’s always hand fans,” joked Dyer. “I’m telling my age now.”

Scientists at the United States Department of Energy say the next generation of cooling will involve non-vapor compression technology. It’s less harmful to the environment than running an air conditioner.

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