With the hot, muggy days of summer finally upon us, this story that appeared in The Oklahoman on July 7, 1913, might bring back memories to some Oklahomans and remind others that, while we have the luxury of air conditioning, the window shades are there for a reason.
“Late sleepers beware! You who have dragged your beds up to the window and lie abed till other people have started the day's work. Hereafter you are likely to roused at 6 a.m. by a policeman with a request that you pull down the shades or retire further in the shaded recesses of your chamber. No more may you lie in an undraped condition stretched at full length or curled up in your windows, snoring while the work-a-day world passes below you and stares.
“'Pull down the shades or get up!' may be the order issued by the police department to those who sleep in windows. Chief of Police J.D. Jones is about to place a ban on southern exposures. There are threats of a 6 o'clock curfew to arouse old and young, fat and thin, and notifying them that it is time to retreat from the airy couches. No such orders are official, but they may be so.
“The new crusade is the result of an early trip downtown Chief of Police Jones made Sunday morning. Late Sunday night he had scarce recovered from the shocks received Sunday morning as he passed through the residence district of the city.
“As he rounded a corner on the way to his office, he saw what appeared to freight car draped in a circus tent lodged on the porch of a fine residence. Closer inspection showed that it was merely the large owner of the house sound asleep at 8 a.m. partly wrapped in a voluminous 'nightie.'
“Windows and porches were filled with sleepers exposed to the early morning light and the gaze of early pedestrians. The warm weather apparently had drawn hundreds to spend the night in the windows and caused them to forget the morrow.
“Of course the hot weather is to blame and Chief Jones, who is not thin, realizes that only in the windows may be felt the cooling, caressing breezes that woo sleep, but he protests that the sight presented by large fat men and women lying in the windows at 8 a.m. is demoralizing. Chief Jones is not anxious to make himself the Anthony Comstock of Oklahoma City, but he declared something must be done.”
Anthony Comstock was the head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice and to quote Edith Johnson, editorial writer for The Oklahoman, he “had an eye that saw evil where others saw it not.”
Chances are, 100 years ago, most Oklahomans who saw people “lying in their windows” knew they were only trying to keep as cool as possible in the hot days of an Oklahoma summer.
There is no indication that the city passed a “pull down the shades or get up” ordinance, but Chief Jones went on to ban kissing in public school yards, when people were congregating outdoors because of the heat.