How did people stay cool in the Summer before air conditioners were invented?

Have you ever wondered what people did in the Summer before air conditioning was invented? I often think of this because I know how much I depend on my A/C during the sizzling Summers.

And there is no way I could survive these blistering Summers without having the luxury of air conditioning.

The first home cooling or air conditioning devices were invented back in the 1930s and the electric fan was invented around the 1880s, so prior to that, people had to come up with creative ways to beat the heat during the Summer months. Fortunately for them, their Summers were not as scorching hot as they are today, so it made it easier to find cooling solutions. Opening windows at night to let the cool air in was a great way to guarantee a comfortable night of sleep. But what happened during the Summer days? One interesting technique that was used to beat the heat was to lick blocks of ice. Yes, you read that correctly, in fact, there is a picture located in the Library of Congress that shows children licking ice blocks back in the early 1900s. This sounds like a fun thing for kids to do, but I hope none of them got their tongues stuck on that ice block or even worse, I hope none of them got frostbite. Ice can absolutely help to cool down the body during the Summer, but getting frostbite on your tongue does not sound pleasant at all. But in the picture, the kids looked cheerful, and I hope they got some relief from the heat. Perhaps the next time I find myself without air conditioning, I will grab some ice from my refrigerator to cool my body down.


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