The local tv station which we watch for the weather has been doing a countdown until summer.  Whoever decided summer starts with the solstice either lived in the north or was an astrologer who only went out at night.  That reckoning makes no sense in the southwestern desert.  School wound up in May and will begin again in August.  100 degree days are already appearing.

John Emerson Roberts took four months off, from early June to the first of October.   It was a point of honor for him that he returned to the farm each year.  In fact, he considered returning to the farm a cure for much of what was ailing society, including high prices.  In 1916 he said,

JERB. . . the farm is being made more unattractive to boys and girls by the reformers who would even prohibit billiard balls and bowling alleys.  We have to get down to the fundamental thing and have got to make the farm laborer’s life more attractive, as the experiment stations and agricultural universities are trying to do.

“Men and women must be persuaded to see that the only life in on the soil,” Roberts said.  But all he could promise was that “they will have the consciousness of living their own way.”

Roberts was able to live his own way by lecturing eight months of the year, and leaving town for four.  Kansas City must have been pretty uncomfortable in summer’s heat.  Who would relish getting dressed up for a lecture at 11:00 a.m. on a July Sunday morning?  It was good business to close for the season.

I write in comfort thanks to my swamp cooler.  Air conditioning has spoiled us. Yet even air-conditioned churches find that attendance, and therefore receipts, go down in the summer.

So much has, and so much has not, changed in 100 years.

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