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Beating the Heat in San Antonio

June 18, 2012

As visitors to San Antonio soon discover, the city is no stranger to scorching temperatures.  Triple-digit temperatures arrive in late Spring and continue into early Fall.  With the widespread adoption of air conditioning,  we enjoy pleasant temperatures in our man-made environment. But it wasn’t until after World War II that air conditioning became common in the average home and workplace.  Until then, people devised various strategies for coping with the heat.  These are photographs from UTSA Libraries Special Collections that give us a glimpse of some of the ways San Antonio residents managed to beat the heat.

Audrey Bennoist cools work area with her own air-conditioning system: a pail of ice in front of an electric fan, June 1936.  (San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359:  L-0983-Z)

Narciso Guerra works on his front porch when the interior rooms become uncomfortable, June 1947. (San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359: L-3415-A).

Motel employee Tony Le Mac serves Mr. and Mrs. Richard Terwilliger in the swimming pool at the Westerner Motel on Austin Highway, June 1948. (San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359: L-3592-A).

Willie Shannon eats his lunch in an ice house during a heat wave, June 1948. (San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359: L-3573-C)

“Barrel Bathing” became the latest fad to keep cool during the summer of 1925. (San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359: L-0436-A)

Mrs. Howard Kessenger cools her children with a garden hose, August 1937. (San Antonio Light Collection, MS 359: L-1611-T)

“Horseback swimming” in Brackenridge Park, August 1938. (San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359: L-1920-E)

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