My first sixteen years were spent in south western Missouri. It was a very hot and humid climate. The summers in July and august were sometimes seemingly unbearable. Air-conditioning in private homes was unheard of and the best we could depend on was a electric fan. Now when it is hot and humid all a fan does is blow the hot and humid air around. This particular summer I am remembering was one of the worst I ever remembered. We would sleep outside at night to try to gain some relief. My father had sewed a large piece of canvas closed on three sides and stuffed it with straw from the adjacent field for us kids to sleep on on the ground. This was fine until the night I discovered the long Black Snake next to the home made mattraess. That ended the outside slumber parties for us.
Someone had dumped a old washing machine along side the road by the rural piece of property my father rented. He removed the electric motor and after finding that it worked used some two by twelve lumber constructed a frame to fit the dinning room window and placing a crosspiece he mounted the motor in the center. He managed to purchase a large three bladed fan that would fit the shaft and fastened it into place. After covering the opening with quarter inch screen he tried it out. Lord with a loud roar of rushing air everything flew off the dinning room table into the living room where everything not nailed down joined the curtains doillies and any papers in trying to escape out the far window. Other attempts at trying to cool down the house included using a regular large fan set in a window with a pan with ice in front of it. Another attempt was to fill a gunny sack with straw and trickle water through the straw in a early attempt at a water cooler.
Years later while visiting with my Uncle Charles before he died I mentioned the episode with the washing machine motor. My Aunt Boot’s(called after the name she gave a favorite pet calf) Said Uncle Charles had did the same thing with the results of blowing all the wall paper off the walls of their small house.
My Dad took his home made fan down to my Granddad Christman’s farm. Granddad placed it at one end of the one-hundred-foot chicken house in a screened door and turned it on on exceptionally hot days. It was comical to see the chickens would jump in front of the fan with their wings spread and fly way down the house and then run to the sides and run back up to the fan and jump out again.
While on the farm I want to leave the fans and heat and talk about their dog. He actually belonged to my step-mothers younger brother, Eugine who was in the navy at the time I entered that part of the family. The old dog’s name was Sargent, out of a litter of dogs that had names starting with private on up to Captain. Sargent was the one picked to go to the Christman home. He was a good farm dog some kind of mix the size of a Lab. large black and brown markings on a white coat. The dog would drive you crazy sitting front of you wanting to shake hands. He did all kinds of farm chores from driving the cows in for milking and chasing off predators. But the story that sticks in my mind is them telling of while watching my step-sister as a three year old before Dad and Mom married. there was a large sorghum field just across the road from the house and time came to cut the field , this involved using the tractor a big Farmall, and a large bladed riding scythe. With just Granddad and Grandma there both were needed. Now people today will chringe with this, but they place the little three year old at the edge of the feild next to the fence under the care of Sargent. She was content to play there and every-time the equipment came anywhere near the dog would place it’s body between the child and equipment and crowed her to the fence. I am not saying the child was left alone for long periods of time but they felt that Sargent was capable of careing for her. I saw this same animal kill fairly large snakes on two different occasions. One time later after my father married us into this family the dog was laying in a field they were working and somehow his right rear leg got caught in a scythe and was severely mangled. My Uncle was home by this time he simply used a axe to finish removing the leg at the knee. Sargent lived and thrived for many more years after that. He was still living when my family moved to California in 1955.
Well that’s all I have for tonight, so I’ll ramble on ramblingbob