Bowling Green had just endured a frigid winter. Five months later, in a letter to her children on July 25, 1934, Martha Potter confessed again that her news would be mostly “about the weather, for that is all we talk or think about down here.” Her description of the summer heat in Bowling Green gives a vivid picture of life in the days before air conditioning.
“People have been sleeping outdoors all night on the ground or on porches or anywhere to keep out of the house for the houses register ninety degrees at bed time,” she wrote. “Ted [her brother-in-law] said he looked out the other night just before day and a big fat man in yellow pajamas was ‘baking’ in the moonlight on the tin roof at Mrs. Green’s.” The sheer numbers of those seeking relief in a yard nearby had even prompted a neighbor to call the police. “We live under the fans and the refrigerator door is open most of the time after water or ice,” reported Martha. “But it is such a joy!” she declared of her new appliance, purchased two months earlier. “We have always had plenty of ice even in this weather.”
Social activities had required a few concessions to the heat. Attending a music practice for a program at WKU, Martha pronounced the hall “the hottest place I ever felt. . . . The men wore cloths around their wrists to keep the perspiration off the strings.” Pursuing one of her favorite activities with her sister, Martha wrote that they were “golfing under umbrellas, and it is much cooler, as we do not have to wear any hats.” Nevertheless, she was planning a trip to the beauty shop to get her hair bobbed. “I can’t have hair in this kind of weather.”
Martha Potter’s letters chronicling daily life in Bowling Green are part of the Lissauer Collection in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library. Click here to access a finding aid. For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.