Catch a Bay Breeze
Whether strolling at Monroe Park on the western side or gathering on a Point Clear wharf, area residents flocked to the Bay looking for a breeze long before Mr. Carrier and his air-conditioner arrived. Notice the clothing on this assembled crew — that summer staple white cotton.
Sleep Out on the Porch
Gulf houses in the early 20th century were routinely built with screened sanctuaries for occupants to sleep during the summer months. Here is a view of the second-floor sleeping porch once enjoyed by members of the Mobile Business Women’s Club on Mobile Bay. The women who spent the night on those crisp cotton sheets could enjoy the cooler night air and the sound of water lapping in the Bay beyond. Air-conditioning seemed to make such spaces unnecessary, and this porch, like countless others, has been infilled for other uses.
Picnic in a Lake
Mobile has lakes, as well as its Bay, for picnickers to enjoy. Here, Murphy High School seniors take to cool waters to enjoy a floating picnic, circa 1928. The “tables” are set with china and what appear to be Coca-Cola glasses filled with America’s favorite summertime beverage at the time. The paper hats offered comical protection from the relentless sun.
Summertime once brought a curious change inside homes. Turkish wool rugs were rolled up with mothballs, exposing gleaming hardwood floors, while heavier winter drapes and valances were replaced with white organdy or floral print curtains. The velvet and damask covered furniture was annually enveloped in heavy white cotton slipcovers. In these photographs of the entrance hall of the J. F. McGowin home at 1151 Government St., the effect appears a little ghostly, but on steamy days the miles of white cotton must have given an illusion of coolness.
Sit on the Front Porch
Houses were built with deep porches so owners could enjoy the space in rain or shine. Here, the Erik Overbey family is enjoying theirs at 1102 Selma Street in what is now known as Mobile’s Oakleigh Garden District. Light colored clothing, linen suits and the gentleman’s white bucks confirm that this is a summer scene.
Visit the Ice House
In 1930, Mobile had a total of 20 listings for ice dealers in the city directory. Here, boys gather at Oakdale Ice and Fuel Company, which was located at 900 South Broad St. Taking turns sitting on that block of ice must have offered brief relief on a sweltering day. The growing popularity of electric refrigerators led to the demise of most icehouses.