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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Gets Hot

Predictions for this week are showing several days of 100 F. (37.7 C.) for this part of central Texas.  I do not think we plan on Jeeping though Gene did mention wanting to go to a park the other side of Burnet.  My response was not in this heat.  Last week's cool temperatures with highs in the 70's surely spoiled me to cooler weather.

Front porch view, fields beyond trees
All this heat takes my memory back to the days of my youth in Chambersville.  The corn field between us and the Thompsons would be showing signs of ripening.  The maize field across the gravel road would be filled with the deep russet and green of the maize plants.  On the bare fields and roadways you could see heat waves distorting the view slightly.  An occasional whirlwind would travel across the fields lifting any loose leaves into its vortex.  A gentle circling of leaves and debris I would try to catch to see if it could lift me.

Inside the house there might be a fan running.  The fan would oscillate back and forth giving each person in turn a slight reprieve from the heat.  Daddy installed an evaporative cooler in the front room window.  Windows and doors into that room would be closed.  That room would be somewhat cooler.  With the blinds drawn to keep out the sun's rays and the moisture from the cooler the room seemed almost cave like.  The hum of the cooler fan still resounds in my mind.

The window where cooler was installed during summer months.
Days were spent playing dressup or dolls.  Sometimes we played mud pies if there was enough water in the well to spare some.  If Reba Jane came over we would tromp along the cow paths that ran by the nearby wet weather creek.  We did not worry about much of anything, just enjoyed the freedom of summer.  Late afternoons might include going to Ryan's lake for a swim.  I would see lots of friends there swimming, too.  Teens and parents as well as kids my age all joined in the fun of cooling down.  Lucille, Reba Jane's mom, never swam.  She always said she was like a momma cow, just wade out far enough to cool down her bags.

Back yard of Farnsworth house.
The black dirt would get so hot during the summer months.  The continued heat, day in and day out, baked the earth until it cracked.  Wide, deep cracks that seemed to have no bottom.  No cooling rains year after year.  These were the years of the worst drought in Texas recorded history 1950-57.  Many farmers were forced to sell out and leave farming all together, no rain = no crops = no income.  It was during those years my dad slowly put aside farming in search of a more consistent income.  Though we still lived in the same house with the cooler, by the end of 1958 my family was no longer considered farmers.

For three more years we would live in that house.  Minimal indoor plumbing consisted of running water in the kitchen.  We had an outdoor privy and a "night chamber" to avoid the long walk to the privy in the dark of night.  The windows open to try and catch a breeze allowed the stuff and sounds of life to filter through out the house. The curl of dust from passing cars would slowly roll across the front yard toward the house.  The dust would settle on the surfaces inside.  The sound of a distant train whistle could be heard in the evenings when the rumble of farming equipment was stilled.  

Today I sit in the air conditioned comfort of my home.  The thermometer creeps upward toward triple digit readings.  The heat waves rise from the pavement and business roofs.  I may don a swimsuit and try the apartment pool.  It will not be quite the same as Ryan's lake with Lucille teaching me to float on my back.  Or Reba Jane and I catching minnows.  But it will still be hot in Texas in July and cows will wade out just far enough to cool their bags.

Screened back porch was our bathing area in summer.
Also, the beginning of the path to outbuildings including privy.

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