How to Beat the Heat

With temperatures rarely falling below 90 degrees, middle Georgia summers are a hot and sometimes brutal experience. Even today, with every building running air conditioning, the heat seems to seep into every aspect of one’s day, bringing lethargy and the desire for a cold iced tea. However, the summers at Andalusia during Flannery and Regina O’Connor’s residency lacked the reprieve air conditioning offers. While air conditioning was a popular commodity in the mid-1900s, out in the rural south, it was not common. Instead, Andalusia used the attic fan strategically located in the ceiling of Regina’s office. Rather than providing cold air, as an air conditioning unit does, this fan was a ventilation system pulling the hot air out and circulating cooler air into the house. With Regina’s office being a central room in the farmhouse, this allows the attic fan to best battle the Georgia heat. 

Through this circulation system, the temperature of the house theoretically becomes more bearable to its residents. This attic fan can prove to be noise inducing when working. However, this still is considered a small price to pay for a reprieve from the constant heat. The attic fan set in the ceiling of the farmhouse is the original one that cooled the hot summer days during the thirteen years the Flannery and her mother lived at Andalusia. 

Dedicated to her craft, Flannery wrote for three hours a day like clockwork, even during the summer. This commitment to her writing is only more evident when she fights off the lethargy that accompanies southern heat to sit down and stick to her routine. Flannery does note the effect the summers take on her in a letter to a friend in August of 1957 saying, “I can work in the mornings but in the afternoons I can’t do nothing but look at peachickens.”[1]

As someone who cannot bear these Georgia summers, even with the convenience of central cooling, I have nothing but respect for those like Flannery and Regina who lived, worked, and endured the heat. Our attic fan is a unique piece we love to point out and which allows us to give visitors the full experience of life at the farm.

[1] Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being, ed. Sally Fitzgerald, (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1988), 233.

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