Autumn in Florida feels like summer in Florida, at least in the first month of the season – as measured in meteorological terms, anyway.
Today, Friday, September 2, is a typical day in the subtropics: it’s hot, humid, and potentially stormy; the temperature is 89°F (32°C), which is five degrees off the forecast high of 94°F (34°C), and from the dimness of the light trying to make its way through the closed blinds and drawn curtains, it looks like we’ll see some thunderstorms later this afternoon.
Even accounting for unreliable memories and the distortion of the past that is a side effect of time’s passage, I don’t remember end-of-summer/beginning of fall being so hot 50 years ago, or even 30 years ago. Of course, in 1972 I was nine going on 10, and I was re-acclimating to the warmer conditions of South Florida after living with my mom and – after the spring of 1969, also with my half-sister Vicky – for nearly six years in the cold, thin air of Bogota, Colombia.
Like most of the kids in the neighborhood where we lived – a development called Coral Estates Park – from the late summer of 1972 to the late summer of 1977, I spent most of my free time (school had either already started or was about to start 50 years ago today) either playing outside with my small band of friends (all boys) or practicing my still rudimentary English-reading skills by reading books in my bedroom or watching TV in my mom’s room.
I usually “dressed down” to match the warm climate of subtropical South Florida, and when I wasn’t in school, I wore shorts that went down to just above the knees, T-shirts, socks, and tennis shoes, although if I was inside the house I liked to go around barefoot, much to my mother’s disapproval. Sometimes I wore blue jeans or other styles of long pants, but when I was nine and wasn’t as self-conscious about my looks as I would eventually become, shorts were a big part of my “early 1970s” summer wardrobe.
Naturally, since I had the common sense to not run around outdoors during the hottest part of the day on weekends and days off from school, and because kids usually don’t pay attention to weather trends, my memories of the late summer and early fall of 1972 don’t include record-breaking high temperatures or hearing adults mutter about how hotter it was then compared to, say, 1942 or even 1952.
Intellectually, I know that we had days where the temperature reached the low 90s (Fahrenheit), and a diligent search of the Internet will yield the daily highs and lows for September of 1972 if I truly wanted to dig into the matter. In my memory, though, even though the weather in Florida was hot and muggy for a boy who had lived most of his young life in the chilly heights of the Andes Mountains’ Cordillera Central, the Sunshine State’s wet season just didn’t seem as hellishly hot as it does a half-century later.
 In September of 1972, we were a one TV household, at least until my half-sister, who was 22 at the time, got tired of this arrangement because (a) Mom hated putting TVs in our living room and (b) she had to share the TV with me. She liked watching telenovelas on Miami’s Spanish-language TV station, WLTV (Canal 23), and because I wasn’t supposed to watch Spanish-language shows until I was proficient in American English per Mom’s edict, she couldn’t just take over the TV until 10 PM, my bedtime at the time. One day, she went to a store where they sold black-and-white TVs (the most affordable option for someone who had just been hired as a part-time worker in a lawyer’s office) and came home with a small GE portable set with one of those stands with a magazine rack underneath.
I have no idea what kind of TV Vicky owns in 2022. When I still lived in Miami, she had appropriated Mom’s last cathode ray tube color set that had been superseded by a 21-inch Samsung LCD 720p high-def set that I bought for our mother in 2009, the year the U.S. “went digital” and analog TVs became mostly obsolete. Vicky is ultra-conservative in all things technological, so rather than buy a new HD digital set, she got a couple of digital-to-analog converter boxes and took Mom’s now discarded TV to her apartment because her even older set from the late 1980s had finally expired. Mom’s TV was of 1990s vintage, so if it’s still running, it’s over 20 years old now.