Thanks to air conditioning, schools now start in August rather than waiting for September’s cooler weather as we did in the mid-20th century. Living on the farm, I experienced air conditioning mostly by going to cowboy movies on Saturday afternoons and musicals on Sunday afternoon.
Even in September students—grade school, high school, and college—often had trouble staying awake in the afternoons. Teachers would open the high windows and the door in each classroom first thing in the morning to cool off the room and bring in any breeze. Some students used the paper fans passed out by funeral homes to produce their own breezes.
In grade school the heat didn’t stop us from playing full tilt at noon. We had 15 minutes to eat whatever we brought for lunch (no refrigeration) and 35 minutes to have fun before the teacher rang the hand bell. It warned us we had 10 minutes to run to the outhouses (one for girls, one for boys) and to line up at the well for a drink of cold water.
Our steaming bodies must have raised the room temperature several degrees when we came inside. The teacher would read us a chapter of a book to quiet us down. About 2:30 everyone woke up enough to run outside for another 15 minutes of play. That kept us awake until school ended at 4:00, when we walked up to a mile home to do chores.
No wonder kids went to bed early and slept well in those days.