Glancing Back: Mad Dogs and Englishmen
Coping With The Heat In George F. Taubeneck’s “Inside Dope” column in the August 15, 1966 News, he wrote about how two different groups of Europeans learned to adapt to the heat. Here are some of the lessons learned by these groups that Taubeneck covered in his column, some of them backed by scientific evidence.
Taubeneck first addressed the English, who learned to deal with the heat while colonizing parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Drawing from Dr. Douglas H. Lee’s book Human Climatology and Tropical Settlement, Taube-neck wrote that the English learned while in India about “the art of loose-fitting, light-colored clothing; broad shade hats; and afternoon naps” and introduced the late afternoon tea, as well as the early afternoon and evening gin with lime.
Another Indian custom adopted by the British is going to a cooler location on the weekends. Dr. Lee, an Australian, found out that short vacations in a cooler climate “allowed the body to reconstitute its fluid balance.”
The people of Italy were also covered in this column. Unlike the English, said Taubeneck, the Ital-ians had learned from Roman times or earlier how to deal with the heat.
One lesson from the Italians is that the higher the temperatures, the longer it takes to adapt to them. According to Taubeneck, medical studies confirm this fact, so, “It’s best then, to relax, give in, roll with the heat, don’t fight it.”
Another way the column stated that Italians deal with hot weather is by doing, eating, and drinking at least a little bit of what one likes best.
Here are the psychological and practical suggestions Taubeneck gave for keeping cool:
1. Avoid emotional extremes, especially getting angry, upset, or worried.
2. Move slowly, live slowly.
3. Reduce the caloric intake from your food consumption.
4. Small quantities of sweet or citrus flavor satisfy the mucous membranes of the mouth and enable one to drink less for thirst.
5. Sponge baths with cologne water and alcohol are more refreshing and less difficult than a tub bath.
6. Cross-ventilation fans are effective especially at the floor level; air movement is the primary objective of this method.
7. Devote an hour, if possible, to relaxation with a cooler or refreshment before retiring; it helps to slow the body’s hot, daytime speeds.
8. Wash or rinse your feet, hands, and neck whenever convenient.
9. Start your day as early as possible, breaking up the warm midday period with an Italian-style nap.
10. Loose clothing of light fabrics like pima, batiste, and madras, and head protection — ideally made of straw with a broad rim — are traditional and effective.
And air conditioning, of course!
Publication date: 08/13/2001