Hot as Florida when I wuz a Kid

Jennings house, ca. 1902, Ft. Pierce FL
Jennings house, ca. 1902, Ft. Pierce FL

A friend sent me a funny email recently about the hot weather she's having in Chicago...I wrote back and said that with the exception of "seat belt buckle could brand you", it sounded just like living in Florida when I was a kid except we didn't have seat belts in those days. But those bicycle handles were hot when you grabbed on to ride home from school! and it was year-round! We sure sweated a lot. I'll bet we smelled pretty strong, too... I do remember the first summer we spent in Chicago. I was 13. I wore a sweater over my shoulders all summer -- I stayed cold cause it never got over 70 degrees that year. And my hands and feet never got warm until I started line dancing several years ago. My husband said they were like ice cubes in the bed.

My daughter and family recently moved to upstate New York. The house they're renting doesn't have a.c. -- and it's supposed to be 87 today! That's another thing I remember about going up north in the summer. Nobody believed they needed air conditioning.

We didn't have air conditioning in Florida when I was a kid, either. There was a large intake fan in my bedroom window, and many nights I laid my head at the bottom of the bed where it would blow directly on me and slept that way.

For some reason, it didn't seem as hot then. Maybe we were just used to it. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that there weren't any expressways. All the tall buildings were on Miami Beach, 18 miles to the east. There was always a sea breeze. When you rode your bicycle you had a lovely cool airy feel blowing around your face -- probably cause you were sweating so much!

Visiting grandparents in Fort Pierce was the highlight of my summer. Right across the street was the river; a wharf ran out into the water. On the end of the wharf was Petersen's fish house. To the left side of the wharf hung lines of nets, fishermen among them, waist deep in the water, mending their fishing nets. On the right side of the wharf boats were docked, including ours, a little homemade sailboat named "Yankee Clipper". I have a snapshot of my dad and his brother crewing the "Clipper" in one of the inshore sailboat races back in the 20's. I'll post it when I find it...meanwhile here's a shot of the old Jennings house, built 1902 by my grandad and greatgrandad as a wedding gift to grandma and grandad. Funny family tale: during the building of their house, a neighbor also began building. Grandma was incensed that the neighboring place was closer to the water than hers so she had them pick up the blocks already laid and move them 10 feet ahead. Good thing they hadn't laid the fireplace yet!

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