I am remembering other Augusts in my life today. I have always hated August. Especially when we didn't have air-conditioning or even fans because we didn't have electricity. I remember days when I would look out on the heat shimmering on the sidewalks and streets – those days past - years ago, when I would look out and see the corn stalks and peanut bushes wilting and turning yellow in the heat – when the buzzards and chicken hawks would fly around searching for something dead that was in the fields wafting up their awful stench!
August, where are those night that were so hot I could not bear to move on the hot sticky sheets, and the sweat would run down my face and body, and then I would lie still hoping for a cool breeze to blow in through an open window or the screen door – finally drifting off to sleep, dreaming of cool days and thunderstorms?
Augusts, those years when with people getting air conditioners installed in windows, as a happy stay-at-home mother, I had the luxury of NOT going outside if I didn’t have to, or want to, and August became a month of isolation, when I hid from the sun and the steaming humid summers of San Antonio?
I remember the Augusts when the kids were small, back in the ‘50s and when I stayed inside with the blinds pulled relishing the cool air of the room air-conditioner which cooled about half the house...and it was like a dark cave, and I retreated with a pile of books stacked on the bedside table and read a book a day, wishing I could find a Book-of-the-Week Club instead of the Book-of-the-Month Club. In those years I also belonged to the Literary Book Club, The Reader’s Digest Book Club and the Doubleday Book Club and in August I ran out of books. Then I sat in front of the television set watching soap operas for hours, which numbed my mind. I kept my eyes glued to the set, letting myself drift into that world of love, infidelity, and families torn apart, and when I clicked off the set, looked around and was glad I was me, and not them, and I thought “No one lives like that! Thank Goodness!” Yes I was very naive back then!
August, when I stayed inside and my children would stay outdoors, chasing each other for hours in the sprinkler, or riding bicycles with training wheels and tricycles up and down the sidewalk and driveway, not minding the heat and the sun, running in and out of the house, voices calling, “Mommy, I’m hungry, Mommy, I’m thirsty! Can we have a Popsicle? Can we have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Can I go to Ryan’s house? Can we have a lemonade stand? Can I go over to Shelley’s? Can I have some Kool Aid?”
August, when I stayed inside and not hearing any sounds, I stepped out the door, with the heat blasting my face coming from the hot sidewalk, to make sure the kids were still around, and heard scuffling and whispering and giggling, so I knew they were beside the house where I couldn’t see them. I saw toys, and bicycles and tricycles and blocks and wagons and dolls and buggies, strewn all over the driveway, and I was too hot to tell them to pick things up., and I turned and went back in, knowing they were at least alive although into some kind of mischief. But it was too hot to yell at them.
August, when you heard kids outside fighting, yelling, screaming, laughing boisterously, and you retreated to the bedroom, closing the door, and hoping they could not find you for a while, and they at least would not kill each other! And prayed for school to start soon!
August, when I would lay on the bed and wonder what to fix for supper that would not heat up the house. I decided Eddie could cook hamburgers on the barbecue pit by the patio, where it was shady. I lay there thinking I needed to go make a big pitcher of iced tea to have ready for him when he got in.
August, the days when I wished September would come in a hurry, with it’s promise of cooler days and nights and maybe some rain, and wonderful school days. During the '30s and 40’s, I knew it meant going to school instead of working all day in the boiling hot sun in the fields. I was in school all day. As I remember, I can almost smell the aroma of chalk and Big Chief tablets. After we started going to Poth High School, what with the long bus ride into town and back home again late in the afternoon, what with pep squad and football practice, and on Friday nights, the football games, there was not much chance we had to work in the fields. Oh September, a month of new beginnings. I hated August. I loved September.
August in the city is a month of deserted streets, hot sidewalks, burning hot pavements, too hot for kids to be out, too hot to go walking, too hot to visit with the neighbors, and lonely days of being holed up in a house with the shades drawn, shutting out the heat. August hangs over the city like a boiling hot sauna. August is when I am the most grateful for air-conditioning above any other new invention. Will September never come? Oh dear, it is only August 1. Maybe this year August will turn out to be cool and rainy. I can dream can't I?