November 19 • 02:49 PM

The summer of 1936 was a 'hot one'

July 21, 2010
Whoopee-doo! This hot, muggy stuff is not for me. I'll welcome the first snowflake.

Our Almont 4-H Saddle Club and cooperative parents used to take the club for a weekend campout in the Hadley Hills about this time of the year. One year we rode home in 90 degree weather. I got so hot that I got cold and had goose-bumps. Dr. Haney said I nearly had a heat stroke and would always be bothered ... and he was right.

The weatherman on TV has been giving 1936 heat temperatures ... 104 degrees? I kept a five-year diary during my high school years and looked up July 1936. Sure 'nuf ... there it was: Wednesday, July 8. Whew! It is hot, 100 in the shade, 102-104 in the sun.

Thursday, July 9. At night I laid out on the grass for awhile. Slept downstairs in front of the door.

Friday, July 10. Grass is dead, no green at all. Lots of people dying. Temperature around 104. So, the weatherman was correct.

Our hired man decided to try sleeping in the basement, called a 'Michigan basement,' a dirt basement floor where the summer potato crop was stored and later sold to a potato chip factory in Detroit. I expected them to bring in a sack or two of courtesy potato chips ... dream on. Sleeping in the damp basement made the hired man sick.

...And then my Mom cooking our noon-time dinner (dinner was always at noon, leftovers were for supper in the evening) on her four-burner kerosene cook stove. She was so proud of it, much cooler than the wood burning Range Eternal. I can still see her cooking at noon time when using the wood stove. She perspired profusely, one of Daddy's red bandana handkerchiefs tied around her forehead to keep the perspiration from her eyes, sometimes falling asleep walking around that hot kitchen ... honest. It scared me. The minute dinner was over, it was hurry in to the cool living room floor where she and Daddy took a nap while Grandma Miller and I did the dishes. Two burners on the kerosene stove held an oven but baked goods were never as good as those baked in the Range Eternal. Never, to this day, were any baked goods as good as those baked in the wood stove ... never. When Red and I took over the farm where I eventually spent 76 years, we inherited the Range Eternal.

However, the day the ol' cook stove was hauled out and the brand new electric stove brought in, was a happy day. A friend from the Bud Guest morning show happened in that morning, "What! Throwing out that perfectly good stove! We wouldn't part with ours ... nothing like pies and bread baked in a wood stove oven!" I came to realize that, but no more ash pans to empty, and remember the little tiny one that caught the very fine ashes? No way could you get it out without a few fine ashes escaping, even with putting a newspaper over the top ... poof! I still sneeze when thinking of it.

Maybe, as Alan says, "The only good thing about the good ol' days, is that they are gone!" Maybe, but, after yesterday's storm knocking out our take-for-granted electricity ... Gee, that ol' kerosene stove would have come in kinda' handy. Thanks to Don and Carl Heim for hooking my refrigerator up to their generator.

I will have to wait for the electricity before I can sit down at my computer and zip this off to you (which as you see, it did come on Friday evening. The A/C feels good this hot, muggy Saturday). Onward and upward.

—Country Cousin

Gertie Brooks is a lifelong Almont area resident. A 'farm girl,' Gertie is the premier historian for the Almont area, and frequently offers her memories and first-hand accounts in her 'Country Cousin' columns.
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