Here's a great reminder from the pages of the Lorain Journal in late May 1951 of how we used to keep cool before central air-conditioning. (Before air-conditioning? That's a er, uh... chilling thought!)
I'm sure all you Baby boomers recognize this style fan. (Click on the ad for a larger view.) We had several of them similar to this, and I remember they were distributed around the house.
There was something kind of magical about the way they rotated back and forth.
Anyway, when I was a kid, this is the kind of fan we had sitting on a chest of drawers in our bedroom, and the combination of this fan and the hallway exhaust fan did the job for many years. (I've written before about the hallway exhaust fan that my family used to run in the summer time, and how that nostalgic sound still haunts me on a hot summer night.) Then, in the late 1970's my parents got central air, and the fans like the one shown above were put away into storage.
Ironically, my wife hates air-conditioning, and we don't run ours very often. This is well known at my workplace, and my co-worker John will kid me during a heat spell. "Well, did you turn on your air-conditoning?" he'll ask. He's amazed when I grimly reply, "NO!"
Nevertheless, air-conditioning remains one of the world's greatest inventions. But I may just have to pick up one of these Livelyaires at a garage sale just in case.
Speaking of Livelyaires, here's a link to an Antique Fan Collectors Forum with some great photos of the vintage product.
And if you need to cool off a bit during this heat wave, here's a video that might help!