As we suffer with the stifling heat, The News on Six wanted to find out how folks managed to stay cool in the days before air conditioning. It wasn't until the 1930's that air conditioners became commonplace. They were first found in movie theatres. The modern cool convenience didn't reach homes until the 1950's.
For the first part of the century, folks couldn't just go inside to escape the heat, so they had to get creative to keep cool. "Early Tulsans used to go to someplace called Bird Creek Falls area that had a little bit of falls or rapids," said Robert Powers, curator of the Tulsa Historical Society. But it wasn't just natural wonders that attracted hot Tulsans; movie theaters filled up when they turned modern in the 30's. "One of the reasons why they could fill a 2,400 seat movie theater was because it was cool," Powers noted.
68-year-old lifetime Tulsan Dick Warner remembers going to the Ritz or Orpheum to catch a show and some cool air. "I can remember signs out in front saying "ice cold" or something like that. The theatres were about the only place that were air conditioned in those days," he recalled.
For those who say it wasn't as hot back then, records prove differently.
Dozens of degree-breaking records still stand from the 1920's and 1930's.
"I don't remember it being that hot, it's really funny," said Warner. Instead, he remembers turning the hot times into good times. "If it was a hot evening, we'd get in the car with my folks and we'd all drive out and have cold root beer and we'd play in the lawn sprinklers," he remembered. It was summer. The livin' was easy, as they say.