July is one of the hottest summer months in North Dakota and to beat the heat, many will be cranking up the air conditioning. Dr. Ralph Kilzer and Linda Binek remember a time when air conditioning wasn’t in common use.

“I didn’t know any different,” Binek said.

“It was very hot in the summer and very cold in the winters,” Dr. Kilzer said.

Dr. Kilzer, a retired physician, said the way he kept cool on a warm North Dakota day was by drinking lots of water.

“We even had two gallons of water. We would drink in the afternoon sitting on the tractor doing cultivating corn or going over the fallow or out making hay,” Dr. Kilzer said.

As for Binek, she cooled down her home by recirculating the air inside any way she could with lots of fans.

“It was just the way it was, fans, little box fans, or standing fans, or anything that could move the air,” Binek said.

For some North Dakotans, this hot past was not that long ago and we’re not just talking about the addition of AC in our homes, but cars too. The 1940 Packard was the first car to offer factory-installed air-conditioning but it wouldn’t be commonly installed in cars until decades later.

“I actually didn’t have air conditioning until I bought a permanent home here in Bismarck, and I was already about 35 years old,” Dr. Kilzer said.

“I didn’t have any air conditioning until probably 2004,” Binek said.

Although AC wasn’t installed in Binek’s home, she did have AC at the school she taught at, which was great during the day when the sun was at its peak.

“We didn’t need very much of it because school was out over the summer, so you didn’t need air. They didn’t use much air conditioning in the summer,” Binek said.

Dr. Kilzer worked at our local hospitals, which also had air conditioning which proved vital in performing surgeries.

“I was privileged to do the first hip replacement and the first knee replacement in Bismarck back in 1972. All the hospitals and operating rooms all had air conditioning,” Dr. Kilzer said.