When Grandpa John Was a Kid - Sleeping Outdoors

Oklahomans expect some hot summer nights. When I was a boy in the 1930ís, we experienced some record-setting high temperatures.

Two bedrooms separated by a bath lined one side of our house. My brother Wallace and I slept in a double bed in the north bedroom. While the south bedroom would get a night breeze through the open windows, the north bedroom received little air movement. My brother and I solved our problem by sleeping outdoors.

Our two bedroom house had a large front porch with enough room for a bed. As Wallace and I grew older, we moved our bed to the backyard. The outdoor location provided a canopy of stars to fill my mind before going to sleep. With the dry summers and the location of our house in Oklahoma City, we had no problem with mosquitoes.

At bedtime Wallace and I picked up the mattress with its sheets in place from our bedroom and carried it to the outside bed. When the sun came up, we carried the mattress back inside. On rare occasions, we would be awakened by the sounds of a thunderstorm which was the signal to move inside.

The neighbors on one side had a fence for their dog. The back and other side of our backyard were open. Neither my parents nor I had a moment of fear about my safety in the yard overnight. I wonder if there was less crime then because the potential victims didnít have much of value.

Air conditioning for homes would not be available for another twenty years. I suppose if we had had air conditioning, I would have missed these cherished memories of Godís outdoors at night.

Copyright 1998 by John C. Westervelt

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