July. Hot and humid in southern Iowa. The last rain was in early June. The ground had deep cracks in it caused by the drought. The crop report on the lunchtime radio would be talking about how the crops were failing due to a lack of rain. Then you would hear the announcements on the radio that a good number of churches would be holding services to pray for rain. Half of our economy relied on how well the farmers did. Most of us had friends and family that lived and worked on a farm. Times are tough during a drought.
We would do whatever we could to try to stay cool. Air conditioning in our homes? Nah. Most of us didn’t have anything like that and we envied friends of ours whose Mom & Dads did have window air conditioners to help keep their homes cool. The rest of us had box fans from Woolworth’s or Kresge’s. We also had a garden hose that we would turn on and spray at one another until our oldest sister, “The Troll“, would yell at us to turn the water off or she would let Mom know about it when she got home from work. “The Troll” was a rat fink. We’d plot some revenge for her for later.
We’d lay in the grass under the shade of an elm tree and hope for a breeze, any breeze, would suddenly blow up. When it did we would know from which direction it was coming from:
- The breeze would smell like dead fish and stale muddy water if it were coming from the south.
- Like the packing plant if it was coming from the southeast.
- Mr. Handy’s horse farm if it was coming from the north.
Yeh, it was hot and humid and all of us kids were melting in the July heat. We’d go scrounge up a dollar in change, grab the glass root beer jug and sneak off to A&W before “The Troll” knew we were gone. We’d catch it from her just as soon as we got back but it was worth it to share that gallon of root beer during a hot day. We’d sit around and make plans on sleeping outdoors that night. It may be hot and there may be mosquitoes outside but it was still better than trying to sleep in a stifling hot house.