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Cooling off from the heat and humidity in Brooklyn, NY

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Posted by Nate Goldman on Sunday, July 7th 2019:

I have many memories of the intense heat and humidity, during the Summer months in Brooklyn, NY. There were several remedies to cope with the heat, which were as follows:

a) The beach-Whether you went to Coney Island, Brighton Beach, or to Riis Park in the Rockaways, it was quite a relief from the heat and humidity. The cool ocean breeze was great! I remember the hot sand on my feet, while going into the ocean, and coming out of the ocean. One summer, there were shark scares, so everybody was extra cautious. There were NYPD helicopters patrolling the area, on the lookout for sharks. This occurred well before the movie "Jaws". Once we came out of the ocean, I headed for the huge beach umbrella which we had, which shielded us from the sun. Then, the Good Humor ice cream vendors would come on the beach, with their delicious ice cream. One time, when I was about five or six years old, I somehow wandered away from my family on the beach and became lost. Finally, two very nice teen age girls found me, and returned me to my family. The chewing out which I received from my Mother, was worse than being lost. In any event, when we came back to Brooklyn after crossing the Marine Parkway Bridge, (which was only 10 cents in those days), we could feel the intense heat and humidity on Flatbush Avenue.

b) The movies- We could go into the Leader, Kent, or Midwood Theaters, and cool off, as they all had central air-conditioning. Central air-conditioning was not available in the older homes in Brooklyn, at that time. Then, the movies were less than a dollar, including two movies, a cartoon, and a Movietone newsreel. Today, the candy concessions cost more than the price of the admission ticket. I remember, when Cinderella was playing at the Midwood Theater around 1950, and my brothers and I tried to get in. For whatever reason, the cashier wouldn't let us is, stating that we were too young. After my Mother had a spirited discussion on the telephone with their Management, she sent us back with my oldest brother, who was fifteen, and we got in.

c- Fans- The large window fans were on sale during the Summer, at VIM, Sears, WT Grant, ( suburban store, similar to Walmart), A&S, Mays, Strauss Stores, Times Square Stores, and S. Klein on the Square in Union Square. They weren't bad, and provided some relief.

d- Window air-conditioning units- In 1967, after sweating at 793 Westminster Road, for 18 years during the Summer, I finally persuaded my family to install those units. I was able to order several from a Montgomery Ward catalog. The latter catalog, in those days, was just as large as the Sear's one. I ordered a very large unit for our living room. We had to get an electrician to install a special 220 volt line. The large unit broke down less than one year later. Fortunately, it was still under warranty, and was repaired. The smaller window units for the bedrooms, were excellent, and were used well into the Fall, when it was still warm. In addition to keeping out the heat and humidity, the noise level from traffic in the street, was considerably diminished with those units. Also, in those days, electricity was no more than 8 cents per kilowatt hour; hence, it wasn't a large strain on the utility budget.

e- One last method of beating the heat, was to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, from Brooklyn to Staten Island. The cool breeze from the New York Bay, was great, no matter how hot it was outside.

Air-conditioned subway cars, really didn't start to become available to the public until the early 1970's. Then, it was on a very limited basis. I remember the subway cars which were not air-conditioned. Once those cars became packed during the rush hour in the heat, they were like hot cattle cars.

What did all of you do, to beat the summer heat, in Brooklyn?

Reference ID: BK95858


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