Ride around Gilmer these days and you’ll see very few of them.
Commenting on a Washington Post web story, someone using the handle
wjc1va wrote in part:
Ahh the timelessness of screened porches. Look folks, I grew up i Florida before the advent of air-conditioning. Here is the time-line for porches in the South.
—first a patio..then . . . you can use it two weeks in spring and two weeks in fall. before and after your are attacked by myriad mosquitos, wasps, ticks, etc
—to fix said problem you screen your patio . . . [but] nobody in modern life will sit on a screened porch in a swing or rocker in 100-degree heat fanning themselves while drinking a mint julep. Said screened porch languishes.
-- ah . . . great idea . . . solve the problem by walling in said porch and adding air-conditioning.
The timeless idea of porches in the South and the inevitable evolution.
THIS PERSON (gender unknown) tells of a Florida experience that pretty much replicates my childhood in Gilmer.
In the 1930s, as best I can recall, the Crystal and Strand Theaters were the only air-cooled places in town. I particularly favored matinee movies, because the attic fan in our house was helpful at night but did nothing but pull in hot air in the daytime.
The large swimming pool close to downtown in what we then called Roosevelt Park was newly filled once a week with cold water from Gilmer’s deep water wells, but too much time at the pool threatened serious sunburn.
Evaporative coolers were much used in West Texas, but at least one family I knew who moved here and brought their cooler with them found that it just didn’t work in our humid climate.
My family’s house on Pecan St. was built with a concrete terrace next to the kitchen, and at some point before World War II my parents converted it to a screen porch.
Later, post air-conditioning, they added glass jalousies to make it useful year-round.
AND AS TO the aforementioned “dog days,” I wondered how that expression got started. I found the Columbia Encyclopedia website helpful, and I cite part of its explanation here:
Dog Days is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun.
In the latitude of the Mediterranean region this period coincided with hot days that were plagued with disease and discomfort.
The time of conjunction varies with difference in latitude, and because of the precession of the equinoxes it changes gradually over long periods in all latitudes.
NOW THAT was another phrase new to me. I learned that axial “precession” is a gravity-induced, slow and continuous change in the orientation of an astronomical body’s rotational axis. In particular, it refers to the gradual shift in the orientation of Earth’s axis of rotation, which, like a wobbling top, traces out a pair of cones joined at their apices [the pointy parts of the cones] in a cycle of approximately 26,000 years.
We know that latitude, in the northern hemisphere, measures the distance north of the equator, Chicago and Rome, Italy,are at roughly the same latitude, about 41 degrees north.
All things considered, I’ll just look on dog days as the hottest part of summer, and hope they’re behind us before September arrives.