My folks had a fan and they knew how to use it. Many times Dad put the box fan in a window, lowered the sill to brace it, raised or lowered other windows to fist width, and instantly cooled the atmosphere within our hot, sticky walls. It was magic that I didn’t totally figure out till I had my own hot, sticky rooms to cool, realizing there was science behind his magic. Factors considered included time of day, room being used and for what, where the shade was and the decision to pull air in or blow it out. He always seemed to know the particulars without much fuss.
Mom made magic, too, with that box fan. Sultry city summers didn’t keep us kids from running to the park or the neighbors for games of tag or hide-and-seek or biking through heat waves pulsating over concrete sidewalks. We could get hot, stinky and cranky by mid-afternoon. After quick baths we welcomed the cool comfort of naps in our underwear on top of our bedspreads, pulled curtains rippling from the fan sitting on the floor or on a chair, neverminding the rattles that didn’t completely drown out the low tunes from the radio.
Country summer days are just as sultry. After all, Missouri is known for sizzling temps. These days I might do nothing more exerting than watering flowers and the remedy for my sweaty body and cranky mood still includes a fan. Taking a quick cool shower, donning an oversized tee and stretching out on a patchwork quilt in an air-conditioned house lacks the comfortable nostalgic vibe. Add the gentle breeze and hum from an old box fan stabilized on a braided rug, its rattling knobs quieted with folded paper, along with low tunes from 99.1 and nap time seems luxurious.
“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder