If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

In the Broiler

As I write this, the temperature hit 106ᵒ here in Kansas City. We’re under a Severe Heat Warning from the National Weather Service to go through the weekend, so when you read this it’s likely it will be even hotter here. We’ve had our first heat deaths of the season. There will be more, unfortunately. Across the Midwest and the Southwest, triple-digit temperatures are popping up all over.

In other parts of the nation, large swathes of the country are in flames. Colorado is burning, even in Colorado Springs, I understand. The Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana is burning—110,000 acres. New Mexico, like Colorado, is facing the worst wildfire in state history. Arizona and Texas have also been battling wildfires.

Many of us in that huge middle of the map are under the broiler or in the flames. I don’t remember summers being so hot when I was young—and I grew up in a time when very few individuals had air conditioning. Even motels often didn’t have any, so those who did would trumpet it as a huge selling point. “Icy-cold air-conditioned rooms.” 

People had fans, including attic fans, so summer’s accompaniment was always the quiet whirr of the fans. In parts of the South and the desert areas, people had lumbering swamp coolers, which used water to cool by evaporation. The extreme humidity in Kansas City made that a poor choice for this part of the country.

Back in the day, people had big screened sleeping porches. Others slept out in their own backyards, hoping for a breeze. Those without either amenity (because they lived in apartments or other shared housing) took their quilts and mats to lie on and headed for the city parks to sleep during the hottest nights of summer. The parks were full of families sleeping when the highest temperatures hit.

The heat doesn’t seem to have bothered us as much back then—or perhaps it never bothers little kids that much. I do, however, remember a great heat wave in Kansas City the summer I was pregnant with my youngest. Although air-conditioned homes were quite common by then, many people died—older people and poor people. They no longer felt safe sleeping outside or on screened porches and couldn’t afford air conditioners. My baby was born in late July that summer, and I was miserable in the final stages of pregnancy without any air conditioning.
My father-in-law had given us a massive window air conditioner that would cool the whole first floor, but it needed a special outlet and my husband at the time refused to pay to have it installed. We argued and wrangled over it, and I thought I would die of heat prostration before the baby could be born. In the newspapers and on TV news, the heat death toll mounted with no end in sight.

Finally, my youngest son was born. In those days, they kept mothers and babies longer in the hospital after even normal births, and he had some jaundice to deal with. Normally, I hate every minute I must spend in the hospital and try to talk doctors into letting me out early, but not that summer of the deadly heat wave. The hospital was air conditioned.

Three days before we were due to return home, I calmly informed my husband that I wasn’t taking my son home to become a new heat-death statistic. If he didn’t have the air conditioner installed by the time we were released, I would have a cab take us to a motel and would stay there until he did or the heat broke—whichever came first. I was determined, and he could see it. So the air conditioner was installed, as he moaned over the $300 it had cost to install the outlet (when he spent more than that on golf clubs). For the rest of the heat wave, I kept the baby sleeping in his play pen in the living room and slept there myself along with the older kids—and the husband.

I live in an old house and its window air conditioners do the job just fine until temperatures reach about 98ᵒ. After that, it’s a losing battle for them against the heat and humidity. But I’m truly grateful to have them, nonetheless. Every year when the 100ᵒ+ temps hit, I know I’ll read of deaths of people who don’t have that ability to even partially cool their living quarters and themselves.

So I’m sending blessings and prayers to all living in these areas of high temperatures and to all who live within reach of the wildfires. May you be cool and dry and, above all, safe.

What do you remember of ways to handle excessive heat when you were a child?


Jim Jackson said...

The story of your pregnancy reminded me of 1982. My then-wife, now ex-wife, was pregnant with our first child. We lived 50 miles north of NYC and in June we had a number of really hot days. She had entered her last trimester.

We discussed getting A/C for the bedroom and she wanted nothing to do with it. She was tougher than that. The first day it hit 90, I stopped on the way home and purchased a window unit, installed it and told her she could suffer if she wanted but it was totally on her.

As June turned to July, she found it irresistible and by the time we bought our next house five years later, she had no objections to central A/C.

These days I escape Savannah's heat and humidity for six months and move to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We have no A/C in our off-grid house, but only a few nights each summer is the sleeping uncomfortable.

When one of us is too frail to live 15 miles from the nearest town (of 200) and we have to stay full-time in Savannah, we'll become bats and only come out at night.

~ Jim

Anita Page said...

Linda,growing up in the city, I remember sleeping out on the fire escape when the apartment became unbearable.

Now we make due with an air conditioner in one room and an exhaust fan that does a pretty good job of cooling down the house at night. I find myself resistant to central a/c because I prefer fresh air. That said, our east coast heatwaves--and we're in the middle of one now--are nothing like yours.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, your ex-wife was tougher than I if she chose to endure 100+ temps without A/C at the end of a pregnancy!

I think you've probably hit on the best way to deal with climatic extremes--spend winters somewhere warm and summers somewhere cool.

Bat-behavior doesn't help when the temps stay in high 80s at night with heat radiating up from the city's concrete. Maybe that's why everyone dealt better with high heat when I was younger. We hadn't built over so much of the landscape then and it was easier for heat to dissipate at night.

Warren Bull said...

I don't think I worried about the hear when I was a kid. Running through sprinklers, cold watermelon and iced tea are the remedies I remember. With my pale skin, the sun was more of a risk, I could get sunburned on the last day of summer just as easily as on the first day.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, yeah, Warren, the sun would not be your friend! How did you manage as a kid with no good sunblocks?

Gloria Alden said...

I don't remember suffering as much from the heat when I was a kid as I do now. I remember my sibs and I talking our dad into taking us to several cheap or free swimming holes in the evening. We'd load down the car with cousins and neighbor kids, too, and really packed that old buick full of kids. We also camped outside in the back yard, too.

I still don't have an air-conditioner, but my old house is sheltered by trees in the country so it's always about 10 degrees cooler than in town so I tough it out by closing up the house when it starts warming up outside and using my ceiling fans and a floor oscillating fan. If it gets too hot in my upstairs bedroom, I sleep downstairs with all the doors and windows open to the cooler night air.

I really do hate hot muggy days, and I've a feeling it's only going to get worse this summer.

Anita Page said...

We have an airconditioner in one room, fans in the rest. I resist central a/c because I prefer fresh air, but then our East Coast heatwaves aren't anything like the mid-West.

My childhood NYC memory: sleeping on the fire escape, as neighbors were also doing, when our apartments reached the broiling point.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, I think your feeling that it will just get worse is right on target. According to the weather predictors her in KC, we're in for lots of this with MAYBE a slight cooling from the 100s in mid-July. We've got probably two more months left of this.

Anonymous said...

As a preschooler, the air conditioning was in my bedroom and it was icy, icy cold, wonderful. It was a special early model that my uncle had bought used on behalf of my dad. (It worked still when they quit using it. It is too bad it wasn't donated to a museum.)

I definitely appreciate air conditioning!!!!!

At my paternal grandparents' in my preschool years it probably didn't seem that hot (most of the time) because their house was of that old high ceilinged many windowed type that kept breezes going. I do remember being hot sometimes. Their new house had window units & also a central unit that did a fine job.

I was listening to the Gestalt Gardener (Felder Rushing's show) and a caller who worked in construction said he would put a wet cloth on his head and his baseball cap on top of that and that would work for 20 minutes and then he'd return to the big container of water he kept under a shade tree and dip the cloth in again.


Anonymous said...

In re it getting worse -- it was my understanding that these extremes in temperature, cold and hot, are without doubt part of the global warming that has been going on for awhile.

My maternal grandfather said there was snow IN MISSISSIPPI much more often in his childhood (which would have been the very, very early 20th century.) He definitely agreed it was a lot hotter these days.


Linda Rodriguez said...

Brenda, I watch the guys out working construction in this and feel so sorry for them. Hard, hard work in this heat!

Yes, I think there's no doubt that global warming is messing up the climate. Who knows where we'll end up?