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Sixty-Something: So How Hot Was It? It Was So Hot That...

T.J. Clemente

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On those really hot days I just stroll to the edge of the ocean and cool off as did the men and women of thousands of years ago. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

In a lifetime there are "those days" - when you had to deal with -25F of cold weather or around 100F of heat. Most likely you can conjure up some colorful memories instantly on this subject. Here are a few of mine of very hot days in the life of this sixty-something soul.

I thought I should start with my Catholic School days at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Pelham Manor, New York in the early 1960's. Grey wool pants, white shirts, school ties and blue-blazers were the required daily standard uniform attire for us single digit aged boys. However, the school as did most schools back then had no air-conditioning; in fact I don't even recall fans. So my first recollection of a very hot day was in that classroom when the windows being opened on breezeless days meant more heat coming in. I remember sister Helen Edwards finally allowing the boys to take off their blue-blazers. Bless her sweet heart.

Needless to say I was also an alter boy at the OLPH Parrish and at that time the old chapel was a converted Grant family home, not constructed for large gatherings it had small windows and of course no air-conditioning. It had two fans the size of today's jumbo jet engines and perhaps noisier, but facing the congregation. Serving 11:45 Sunday morning service in the robes under the bright lights with no access to water was a real religious experience. I watched old sixty-something folks back then literally pass out during the Mass on the hottest of summer days.

Growing up my bedroom was in a converted attic. It had two small windows. When it became hot, it was hottest in my room. In those early days central air-conditioning wasn't a staple in homes like it is now. However, mom and dad had an air-conditioner in their bedroom so on the hottest of the hottest nights there would be five children sleeping on floor with pillows around their bed. I can still conjure up the hum of that old heavy air-conditioner and smile.

Now we journey to the mid 1970's and I am on an airplane at West Palm Beach airport in the winter delayed for a snowstorm up north. We are on the tarmac sitting in a tomb like situation on board the plane way out in the middle of nowhere. It is 90 degrees plus outside and we are in a metal plane with no power on, no open windows, and of course dressed to arrive in NYC during a snowstorm. Oh yes, after the third hour of waiting they did a drink service. Free of charge!

Writing this story reminds me of days when it was so hot folks would just stand in the club pool, with a drink in their hand only moving to get another drink. They even used to keep the pool opened to midnight when it was over 95 degrees at night! Back then; in the 1960's few people had air-conditioning!

Cars for the first twenty years of my life did not have air-conditioning. Remember the phrase "four-forty air conditioning?" That was four open car windows at forty miles an hour. Then in the first cars with air-conditioning, the device worked well the first year or so and then no so well as Freon leaked. I used to joke, "My car air-conditioner works best on really cold days and my car heater really blows out the hot air when it's 90 degrees outside!" Today folks are concerned about dogs in hot cars, I am very sympathetic I remember a family of six in our car in traffic jams on asphalt roads with no air-conditioning; not even "four-forty!"

My last remembrance of it being so hot that is more a window to perhaps when us sixty-something people really get old. When I first met my wife Cindi's parents it was early spring/late winter at night. Perhaps I wore a sweater. I walked into their home and it was the hottest I may have ever been in a home at any time. Her parents both in their upper eighties in age had the heat turned way up. At first I thought maybe it was nerves, but when Cindi and I stepped outside she remarked, "I couldn't take another second in there it is SO HOT!" Oh by the way, her mom and dad were wearing heavy sweaters!

I close by saying what a luxury it is that I live but 11 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, on those really hot days I just stroll to the edge of the ocean and cool off as did the men and women of thousands of years ago.

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Guest (Ken Kradtzer) from White Plains, NY says::
Good article, remember the OLPH days, warmest day I recall was All Star Game at Yankee Stadium in 1976, or 77, there had just been a city wide blackout, we had seats in left field bleachers with no roof over head provided a breeze.
Aug 10, 2018 3:48 pm


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