By Arthur H. Gunther III

     These are the dog days of August even though it is not the seventh month. The world seems on fire, with temperatures in many places soaring above 110, almost biblical in prediction. The science says “progress,” from the discovery of fire into the Industrial Age, the Automotive Age, the Profit/Greed Age, the Ignorance/Denial Age is to blame. We will see where all this goes: “Progress” toward solutions or Georgia in August in Maine in February.

     At the moment, I’ll push the headache aside and, as I have done all my life, from toddler to old age, go back in memory to my grandparent’s 1912 home in what was the sleepy wartime village of Spring Valley, N.Y., then a quick train ride away from Gotham though not many went there. (Today the trip is not so quick, “progress” having flooded a sleepy village with suburban/urban growth.)

     In the olden days, in a 5,000-population community when no one had air conditioning save the Spring Valley Theatre, people like my grandfather relied on their wits and some commonsense to cope with the summer heat.

     And it was just coping. No matter what it was hot.

Homes then had big, double-hung windows and 9-foot ceilings for nighttime air flow. My grandmother would open the sash at 8 p.m., and my grandfather would close the windows when he got up at 6 a.m., helping trap the cooler night air for a time during the day.

     He also had a trick: He left the cellar door open and opened the attic door. That created a chimney effect and pulled cooler basement air into the house proper. If outside temps went down enough, he would also open a basement window at night.

     To add to that cooling, my grandmother had homemade lemonade and iced tea plus watermelon at the ready for adults and small ones like my brother Craig and me. There were enough shade trees to sit under as well. 

     Today, as the world boils, I am grateful not to be in the true hot spots but also to revert back to the memories of simpler times and simpler solutions.

(We would really need many big double-hung windows for the world in this heating crisis.)

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. (