Happy In Bag

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Swope Park Slumber Party

While sweltering in this oppressive heat, I sometimes console myself by pondering a slice of Kansas City history.

An old-timer- I can’t recall if it was a family member or a media personality like Walt Bodine- once said that before air conditioning became commonplace, thousands of locals would sleep at Swope Park on hot summer nights.

While that smacks of desperation, and may not even be true, something about the anecdote holds enormous appeal to me. Swope Park is such a beautiful swath of land, and the idea of a communal slumber party sounds fun.

Just not when it’s this hot.

A long-time favorite of Kansas City blues fans, Sam Myers died yesterday. Myers and Anson Funderburgh released Live At the Grand Emporium in 1995.


  • At 9:40 AM, Blogger FletcherDodge said…

    Desperation indeed. I don't even want to think about the lengths that I would go to if I didn't have air conditioning in Kansas City in the summer. 105 freakin' degrees! I mean COME ON!

  • At 9:00 PM, Blogger Ruralgurl said…

    Or was it cooler prior to global warming?

    St. Louis' Forest Park has the same legacy. There are photos of hundreds of people snoozing on quilts in the swelter of summer. Now the cops would haul you in for curfew violation, lewd behavior or loitering if they found you in the park after midnight.

  • At 3:19 PM, Blogger Eric Rogers said…

    It's definitely true. But I've heard it was more of a communal atmosphere than desparate. People also slept on their front porches, which is partly why the bungalows and shirtwaist-style houses have those big, deep porches.

    It might have been a little cooler back then, but people were also a lot more acustomed to the heat. Since A/C came along Americans have become much less tolerant of heat and humidity. What we think is too hot is far different from what people thought was too hot 75 years ago.


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