Afternoon thunderstorms the past few weeks brought back memories of the 1950s and early 60s. I lived in an old wood farm house with a tin roof until I was 12. The sound of rain on a tin roof instantly transports me back to those long, lazy summer days.
Many nights I went to sleep to the sound of rain drumming on the tin. Now I can hear that only if I keep a door open, so I can hear it on my tin roof wood shed. And I don’t do that much since air conditioners don’t work as well with open doors. Bach then that was not a problem since we did not have air conditioners.
Fans provided a little air movement and some cooling. Often at night when there was no rain I would put a fan at the foot of the bed, drape the sheet over it and let it blow up and over me as I went to sleep.
I think that is why I sleep better to this day with a fan running at night. Back then, rainy nights were usually cool enough that the sound of rain was all that was needed for a good night’s rest, but the fan ran anyway.
Weather was very different year to year back then, just like now. Some summers our home-made swimming hole on Dearing Branch would almost dry up due to the lack of rain. Others saw us trying to rebuild our dam almost every week since hard rains washed it out every few days.
We had other ways to beat the heat, too. An ice cold watermelon under the shade of the big pecan tree in the front yard was a great way to cool off on a hot afternoon. And running around under sprinklers under that same tree was fun and cooling.
Every few weeks we kids got a special treat. A couple of times each summer we got to go to Thomson and swim in the cement pool. It was always full of kids and the chlorine in the water made my eyes burn, but it was fun and cooling.
Even better was a trip to one of the two local ponds where the owners had made swimming areas, with sand beaches, diving boards and platforms. For a whole dime we could spend the day at Shield’s or Ansley’s pond, cooling with friends.
Shield’s Pond had a three-story diving platform. The top one was about 15 feet above the water and it took me years to build up the courage to jump from it. I never did try diving, it was just too scary.
When I fished local farm ponds I waded in jeans and tennis shoes. That kept me cool while I tried to catch bream and bass. And I discovered hidden stumps, channels and drop offs with my first “depthfinders,” my feet.
Rainy afternoons make me miss those days even more, when things were simple, and life was easy, for a kid.