.... we lived without electricity and refrigeration?
No, I'm sure many of you can't, thankfully. As a child, growing up on a dairy farm in Victoria's Gippsland area, we had no electricity for many years and no refrigeration or ice chest to keep food cool. We eventually bought a gas fridge which lasted many years until the power was connected and an electric fridge took its place.
In the early days, two important items for keeping food cool in the summer were the Meat Safe and the Coolgardie Safe.
The meat safe was about 50cm square with perforated metal sides. The safe was hung under a shady tree, or perhaps on a veranda, and the breezes blowing through the tiny holes would help to keep the meat cool and the flies away. We had fresh meat delivered three times a week so raw meat wouldn't have been kept in the safe for any length of time.
The Coolgardie Safe, which is thought to have originated in the goldfields of Coolgardie in Western Australia, was only about 35cm square but standing about 60cm tall. The sides were usually made of wire mesh, covered in a gauze fabric. The recessed top of the safe was filled with water and strips of flannel, or other absorbent fabric, were hung down the sides of the safe with one end in the water recess. Moisture would soak down these strips and dampen the sides of the safe. Breezes blowing through the wet cloth had a very cooling effect on the food inside the safe when it was hung in the shade, either under a tree or on a verandah.
One particularly hot summer we had two wide-necked stone jars buried in sand under some cypress trees. Butter stayed firm and milk sweet all through the hottest of days.
As effective as these methods were, I wouldn't swap them for either of my electric fridges today.