POPSICLES. THAT WAS THE BEST SOLUTION. And they were available in all directions if you knew the neighborhood well. There was Zacharias’s on Woodlawn, Jimmy’s on Kimbark, Kelly’s on Cottage Grove, Slogenhop’s on Dante and Riley’s on Blackstone. All were corner groceries in my old Avalon Park neighborhood and all had an abundant supply of popsicles to get kids through a steamy summer afternoonif we had cash, that is. We usually, however, had no cash.
So, the next best alternative? Drinking fountains strategically placed in Avalon Park (the actual park on 83rd) and Avalon Park School playground on Dorchester and inside Sears on 79th (which was also air conditioned) and inside the IC train station on 82ndand at the YMCA on Eliis.
The third and least good alternative was drinking from the garden hose attached to the side of virtually every bungalow for miles in every direction; but the water in the hose was usually just short of hot and to wait for it to run awhile and cool risked being discovered by the neighbors.
On really, really stifling afternoons there was Rainbow Beach or air conditioning at the Y or- for the truly affluent kid- the Avalon Theatre on Cornell.
If I had grown-up on a ranch in Montana I probably would have learned how to hunt moose for my dinner. If I’d been raised in Arizona I’d likely have known how to get water from a cactus. If in Louisiana, how to fricassee an alligator. I grew up in the city and city kids learned how to cool off in our natural habitat, live off the asphalt and not have to trek all the way home just to get a drink of water.
We just celebrated the Fourth of July – Freedom. The hot, hot days of summer were, for us kids, a first taste of freedom when we could venture off on our own to explore the neighborhood and practice living off the land through the long daylight hours.
I still like summer best but I am grateful for universal air conditioning, too.