Summertime in the 1930s

Keeping cool in 1930's
Keeping cool in the summer of 1932. When not enjoying this early version of a
"hot tub" I would walk with neighborhood friends to the wading pool in Catalina Park.
(First Street and Fourth Avenue) The 1929 Ford Model-A panel truck was owned by the
Marshall Foundation and used by my father for twenty years. My parents bought their
first car in 1937. This served as our family car until that time. WCP Compare with this
photo of 819's front yard taken in December 2007. PPS

Summertime in Tucson in the thirties.

Persons who have come to Tucson in the last few years, wonder how we managed without air conditioning.

For one thing, we slept outdoors in the cool summer air. This was fine until sprinkles were felt and a rainstorm came, you had to quickly grab the bedding and the mattress and run into a very warm house. The people who had covered porches were fortunate, in fact a "sleeping porch" was a room frequently mentioned in house descriptions.

We opened all the windows in the house to cool it off during the night, closed all windows the first thing in the morning. In leaving the windows open and in sleeping outdoors we did not worry about personal safety; Tucson was a small and safe town.

The Mission Revival homes like the style of my childhood home at 819 East First were built with "disappearing windows". These were commonly built into houses in the twenties. The window looked like a double hung sash, but above the window was a third compartment. Both glass windows could disappear in to the compartment. It made a sleeping porch of an ordinary room.

Children playing in the yards on summer evenings could go from one yard to another and hear the same radio programs coming from open windows in almost every house. Since everyone had the schedule memorized and there were only a couple of stations, you could tell the day of the week and the time by what program was coming through the open windows. This was more true as the decade progressed and more homes had radios.

The University Square had the few stores already mentioned, soon were added a barber and beauty shop, shoe repair, dry cleaners, photographer, but buying other things meant a trip downtown.

My father was an inventor, or at least he made things we needed from spare parts. In the 1930's some of the comforts we take for granted now were not easily available or were very expensive.

Among his devices for our home were: a solar water heater, a wooden box with copper pipes and a glass cover; an evaporative cooler, a wooden box with excelsior and chicken wire using an old motor and fan from a Packard car, the motor was so powerful it shook the house; the drip irrigation system, a pipe from our icebox put water from the melting ice outside on our flower bed; dual pane windows replaced the canvas and screen windows on the back porch, unfortuately the air between the panes had moisture so in cold weather they became opaque.

The last organic decade of the 1930s - we did not have powerful pesticides; we also did not have antibiotics (penicillin had been dicovered in 1928, but it was more than ten years before it came into use). As for air pollution, we had that, but it was organic. Most Tucson streets were unpaved and very dusty; the city did not bury garbage but burned it west of town. The burning trash frequently smelled terrible; it was to easy to tell the wind direction. The pollution particles helped to make spectactular sunsets.

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