Blanco County CourthouseSummers can be hot! I remember really hot Summers when I was a teen in Oakland, California. Summers there are often cool but I remember some Summers that were very, very hot.  I’d awaken in the morning and the sun would be bright and the air screamed, “Heat is coming!” My Mother, on those days, would draw all the blinds to keep inside what coolness the night had imparted and in the afternoons we would huddle around our little fan waiting for sundown to bring relief.

I loved to be outside in the heat. I’d ride the bus across Oakland to go to my judo school where I taught children in the afternoons and learned from my masters in the evenings. The judo school was not air conditioned but no one was concerned. We just pushed on. We were like Jack London’s character, David Grief, who “was a true son of the sun, and he flourished in all its ways” (1).

Many people in Texas live through the Summer without air conditioning. How do they manage? In the days before AC, Texas homes were designed to be a little cooler in the Summer by catching breezes and letting the heat escape. Many not-so-old-fashioned houses and apartments are not designed to take advantage of nature and really require AC (2).

The sun can be an unfriendly neighbor. During the California 2006 heat wave, there were 140 confirmed deaths and an additional 515 suspected deaths due to extreme heat (3). Summer’s heat can be dangerous for the very young, the very old and the careless.

Three things I learned recently and that seem relevant: 1) dial 211 for information on community resources, 2) many communities provide “cooling centers” as a place to get a respite from the heat, and 3) the CDC has good educational materials for “safety in the heat.”

Cooling Centers in Texas


  1. London, Jack. A Son of the Sun (Adventures of Captain David Grief). Curtis Publishing Company, 1911
  2. Life Before Air Conditioning
  3. CDC 24/7 – Saving Money Through Prevention – California’s Success. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



The old Blanco County Courthouse has never had air conditioning and makes use of high ceilings and cross breezes to stay cooler.

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: