The unnaturally burning hot weather persisted into October as if fueled by an over-fed firebox.

People complain, the television weatherman apologetically suggested moderated temperatures are possible as if it is his fault.

I revisited pictures of public buildings, churches and schools taken before the mid-1960s and noticed opened windows.

In no case was anything canceled because of hot weather. On the local news recently a list was read of schools closed for the week due to hot weather.

Parents were adamant on camera that their children would remain at home.

You and I may have had the same thoughts along the lines of “they have windows!”

No, the precious darlings are not disposed towards making the best of things and neither are their children.

Possibly, the windows are not the opening kind since the inside environment is controlled.

Eddie prefers natural air to the air-conditioning in his car. He drives with windows down refreshed by a the flow. When accompanied by his wife the AC is righteously cranked up to keep peace.

That brought to mind my grandparents who may have experienced air-conditioning but never had it at home.

People didn’t expect to be comfortable during hot weather; they worked around it.

Some cooled off in a nearby creek, took sponge baths or napped in the shade during the hottest middle hours. Meals were eaten cold.

Families in houses with an upper floor created a thermal column, allowing the hottest air to rise to the upper floor and out open windows.

My family used window shades and awnings.

They planted castor bean seeds producing 10-foot plants with large leaves on the south and west of the house. Trumpet vines grew on a trellis to shade the porch.

A sheet of burlap was tacked over an open window with the bottom of the burlap soaking in a pail of water.

Air flowing through the “filter” gave up heat energy to evaporate the water.

In the Middle East people turned nature against itself in order to cool buildings. They used thermal towers but also covered walls with thick tiles on the side facing the predominant wind. The tiles consisted of tubes with large openings on the outer and inner side like a funnel with two mouths.

As hot air passed through the opening and into the tube it sped up but as it exited into the building via the wide opening the pressure of the air dropped, thus dropping the temperature.

I don’t think people knew why it worked but it has worked there for centuries.

It is a pity we don’t embrace natural cooling architecture in our homes.

Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at

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