Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Becomes Bearable

It's July.  And in the Northern Hemisphere that can mean a lot of long hot days.  It's a time you want to get out early in the day or later after dark.  To traipse about outside in the full blast of summer heat in late afternoon can be miserable.

Yet, what could it be without man's inventive spirit?  We have come to expect comfort even in the heat of summer, the cold of winter.  We not only expect it, we demand it.  Why?  Because we are now used to it and oh, how we hate to lose something we really enjoy.

I'm glad I live in a time with such creature comforts.  Back in the 1880's there was no air conditioning.  Some of the history of creation and inventions can be a little murky without clear documentation.  But I've read that in 1882 Schuyler Skaats Wheeler invented the fan.  A few years later Philip Diehl added an electric motor.  Then a few more years later, Diehl added an electric light to it.

Ceiling fans, of course, do not cool the air.  It moves the air around people and in a still, hot atmosphere the air movement makes one feel cooler.  It was a big improvement to man's life.  And the fans became common in a large part of the country, especially in the more urban areas.

In the more rural areas of the country, such amenities were not as available.  Many years ago we met a lady who was quite elderly.  The discussion turned to ceiling fans.  She said one day her family got in the wagon and their father took them to a town not too far away, for he had heard of a family there with an electric fan.  All the way over they discussed what they expected to see.  She said they decided before they arrived the contraption would be shaped like a paper hand fan with a motor moving it up and down to blow the air on them, just as a paper fan pushed the air across the face.

They were wrong, of course.  But can you imagine the excitement of going to see an unusual (to them) contraption that would make life easier and more enjoyable, even in the pulsing heat of deep summer?  When was the last time you were excited to see something new? 

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