The North Bend Eagle

 

Summer heat wasn't always so easy to deal with

by Stephanie Iwan Flamme
Published 7/27/22

With temperatures in the 90s and threatening triple digit heat indexes, staying cool is the focus of everyone’s attention. However for Carol Clement and Gene Minarick, North Bend’s weather-experienced citizens, heat was their way of life during their youth.

Both Clement and Minarick still live in the homes they were raised in and both can vividly recall the times in their lives when their homes were without air conditioning. Minarick spent his youth without even a fan. He was born in 1925 and his parents Joe and Betsey Minarick didn’t get electricity for their home until 1941.


Carol Clement explains how she brought cobs down to the basement so her mother could cook in a cooler environment during the summer. Filling the cob bin, pictured to the left of the stove, was one of her chores.

“Ignorance is bliss,” Clement, who is 83, said.

Before air conditioning everyone did everything in the heat. According to Minarick, farmers planned their days wisely when temperatures and humidity rose. They would work early in the morning or in the evening when it was a bit cooler.

Both Clement and Minarick had first-hand knowledge of binding oats and threshing under a hot summer sun.

“The hottest was threshing as five or six farmers worked together with neighbors to get it all done,” Minarick said.

Before the grain could be threshed or removed from the hulls and stalks, it was cut by a binder and put into bundled shocks. Clement and Minarick helped collect the shocks and then worked with the bundles in the heat to finish the threshing process so the grain could go to market and the straw could be used as bedding for the animals.

“I wore bib overalls, a long-sleeved shirt, leather gloves, and a big brimmed hat,” Minarick said. “When you’re a ten-year-old kid, heat doesn’t bother you as we were the thinner generation.”

Both said threshing was hot and dirty work and the chaff would just stick to skin and clothing during the long week of working at home or with the neighbors. They also mentioned that tractors had no cabs and farmers were lucky if their tractor had an umbrella for protection from the sun.

“People with umbrellas were big time,” Clement said.

Clement also pointed out that when she was young, everyone would dress up even in the summer.

“Guys wore suit coats with ties, and I always wore dresses with nylons,” Clement said.

Both Clement and Minarick had stories about going to dances at the Schuyler Oak Ballroom, Arlington Ballroom, or the Howells Ballroom every Sunday night. Windows were opened in the ballrooms and plenty of drinks were served to help cool the dancers down.

Clement also recalled how hot her dancing partner’s back would get since he was wearing a suit. When she removed her hand, it would be wet with his sweat.

“Dances started at 9 p.m. because of the heat and farmers needed to stay out in the field late,” Clement said.

 

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