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The Un-air-conditioned Life

July 7, 2021

My Dad and Maple Trees around an Un-air-conditioned House

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                After all of the unusually hot weather of June and early July (with a high temperature of 95 yesterday), I often wonder how I never seemed to mind the heat and humidity of our Hoosier homeland when I was young.  How spoiled I am by air conditioning these days!  With the memories of our Blanford home in the summertime and my dad whose anniversary of his birth will be this Sunday (July 11), I am sharing with you the following poem to honor my dad on the 108th anniversary of his birth and to give you a glimpse into small-town living.

* * *

Majestic Maples for Keeping Cool before AC

Family-history Poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

(Dedicated in loving memory of my dad

who took such great care of our home, yard, gardens, field, woods, pets, and family–

July 11, 1913-December 1, 1997)

Five decades before air conditioning was common,

my maternal grandfather planted soft maples

all around the house

which became our forever home.

Long after my Italian grandfather had passed,

his tall and well-canopied trees

gave us shade–

a cooler dwelling, porch, and yard

on the hottest of Hoosier days.

The maple on the east side of our home

towered over the wooden picnic table

and the yard where we waved

the badminton rackets through humid Hoosier air,

where we planted wickets and colorful poles

for an evening’s game of croquet,

where we played on the silver-painted swing set,

where we played with our beautiful puppies and dogs,

where we gathered with family and friends

to share an unnoticeably hot summer.

Another large maple

bent gracefully over the curve in our white-rock driveway–

as if the southwest wind had sculpted the tree’s form.

This tree shaded the bedroom

which I shared with my sister

in the home with no air-conditioning,

our big back porch that became a family room,

our blueish-green water pump,

red Fords that were parked on the J-shaped driveway,

and part of our west field that later became a yard.

Of the trees on the north side of our home,

the grandest one

had a limb that held

a sturdy rope and a circular swing

that allowed me to cool off and dream.

This family historic maple

generously gave cooling shade to our front yard,

sidewalk, and our beloved front porch

where we sat with my cherished dad

on the wooden, Melodious swing.

Neighbors, company from near and far

joined us on this refreshing porch

that was framed with one evergreen and four spirea bushes

over which we jumped onto the soft, cool grass

to run and try to catch lightning bugs

that made the Indiana evening of summer sparkle–

not with complaints of being too hot,

but with small-town life

that, nurtured by those majestic maples,

led to the pleasantly warm,

un-air-conditioned poetic paths of my life.

* * *

Stay cool, and enjoy your journey into July, 2021!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

July 7, 2021, Wednesday


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  1. thhis really brought me back to my own past and growing up in western Pennsylvania. I can connect with so man of the things you focused on in the poem, Alice. For me, it was the 2 blue spruce trees in the front yard, and the black walnut tree in the back yard – and my fathers gardens with a path down the center.

    • Hi, Lynda–Thanks so much for sharing the connection with your home in Western Pennsylvania when you were younger.  In later years, we also had a Colorado Blue Spruce and a walnut tree on the east edge of our east lawn.

          On the June issue of NEWSREEL magazine, I loved your piece that ended with your sitting on an Amish rocker on your porch and your looking out at your beautiful gardens–such a delightful summery picture.

      Take good care, and enjoy your flower gardens–Alice and Willow

  2. Carole permalink

    Your Un-air-conditioned Life brought back many memories from that era of time, especially those days when we were lying on the linoleum in front of a box fan to keep cool.

    Your home and yard were always favorite places to visit and play. The summertime held much fun in your spacious side yard as we played badminton, croquet, and running around after dark catching lightening bugs.

    I must admit that all those years of playing badminton with you and Mary have made my muscle memory for overhead shots re-engage, making that my best stroke in a tennis or pickleball game.

    Enjoy your air-conditioning!

    • Hi, Carole–Thanks for adding your comments to this post!  I am glad to know that all of our enjoyable badminton playing has come full circle to be of good to you now in your Florida life with tennis and pickleball.  Also, I recall our playing many badminton games in Aunt  Zita’s yard to the north of the parking lot of her restaurant, on Saturday evenings when our mothers were working at the restaurant.

      Take care, and enjoy all of your activities!

      Alice and Willow

  3. mfanyo permalink

    Thanks for creating yet another lovely picture with your precise description of our yard and the trees that shaded it! The natural beauty of our home place was further highlighted by the blue spruce tree that you and Dad planted and which grew near the tall pole where the American flag flew!

    Happy Heavenly Birthday to Dad!

    • Hi, Mary–On this July 11, I certainly have been thinking of our remarkable dad.  Thank you for commenting on this post today.

      Take care–Alice and Willow

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