Lingering in Cool, Shady Nooks

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, May 23, 1911: It was most too hot today any work today, so I lingered around in cool shady nooks so that I might not become overheated.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It probably was hotter on May 23, 1911 in McEwensville than it is today. Weather Underground’s forecast for today (May 23, 2011) for McEwensville is for a high of 76 degrees with a 50% chance of thunderstorms.

The May 23, 1911 issue of the New York Times contained an article about the unseasonably hot weather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the previous day. Since Pittsburgh is about 150 miles west of McEwensville—similar weather patterns were probably seen on the 23rd in central Pennsylvania.

The New York Times article said:

PITTSBURG, May 22.—The stretch of two weeks of torrid heat was broken in Pittsburg at 6 o’clock tonight, when an electrical storm brought relief after the official thermometer had registered 92 degrees late this afternoon for the third successive day.

The record of continuous maximum temperature for all months for five years was broken, and all records known, extending forty years back for May heat are shattered.

The thirtieth death from heat in four days was reported this afternoon when Gustave Yenney, a jeweler, dropped dead in the Criminal Court room, the third person to topple over in the same court since last Friday, though the other two courtroom victims are recovering. Following the fatality, two branches of court adjourned to await cooler weather. Business offices all over the city closed for the afternoon.

It’s interesting how offices closed due to hot weather before the advent of air conditioning. I guess that back in those slower times there were both “snow days” and “heat days”.

An aside—Note that prior to World War I Pittsburgh was spelled without an h at the end—i.e., Pittsburg. During the War the h was added to make the name look less German.

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