Whew! It has been hot this summer.

Whew! It has been hot this summer. 

Yeah, we know, Wes. Thanks.

It was so hot for awhile there the chickens were laying hard boiled eggs. It was hot enough to fry those eggs on the sidewalk, and prepare them over hard, just the way I like them. Although I’d rather just use a skillet.

This past May was the hottest May on record in Missouri. June was within the top five. Thank goodness we've had some cooler weather lately, though, and given us some relief.

The hottest day ever recorded in Neosho was 112 degrees Fahrenheight. That was on Wednesday, July 14, 1954.

It was also the hottest day of recorded history in the State of Missouri, where it reached a sizzling 118 degrees in some places of the state. That 112 degrees in Neosho almost sounds a little better. Almost.

The heat record in Neosho had nearly, but not quite, been broken the day before, when temperatures reached 110 degrees, just a half-degree shy of the then-record, set 54 years before. Folks didn’t have long to wait for the record smash. Just 24 hours in fact.

The hottest day in Missouri – and Neosho’s – documented history got hot early. As of 7 a.m. it was already in the mid 80s, according to one state newspaper. By noon the 100-degree mark was passed, and continued to get smaller in the rear view mirror as the temps went up, up, up. Thankfully they stopped at 112 degrees in Neosho. That six extra degrees it reached elsewhere in Missouri probably felt like an added 60 degrees to those who suffered under it.

The weather forecast printed in the Neosho Daily News the day before was almost correct: It said the high for July 14 was going to be 110 degrees. It was only off by two degrees, as evident when the high peaked at the its local record breaker of 112 degrees.

The next day's paper, July 15, included some good news:

“A 'cooler' day was in prospect for Neosho area residents with the thermometer reading ONLY 95 degrees at 11 a. m. today after shattering a 54 - year - old record Wednesday. Slight traces of rainfall brought some relief to the area Wednesday night with .01 inches recorded. A mass of cool air from Canada moved into Missouri today and pulled temperatures downward from record - toppling heights that left at least 36 persons dead from heat exhaustion.”

Most of those Missouri deaths occurred in Kansas City and St. Louis. There was one heat-related death at Nevada, which was one of the places in the state where the air temperature climbed to 118 degrees. Many more people would die in Missouri before the heat wave finally ended a week later. The final death toll was 137.

We think we're hot now – and we are, no doubt. At least I am. I hate the heat. Despise it. Curse it. Call it names. I get just like an ol' mean red wasp in the heat - agitated. My blood pressure rises with the mercury. And I'm inside most of the day too! But think about living conditions in 1954. Almost no one around here had an air conditioner in their home. Units at that time cost about $200 or more. The average household annual income was only $4,000. I'd bet the movie theaters did extra business that week and summer, with their advertisements of “refrigerated air.”

Oftentimes I long to live in a past time. I've never felt quite at home in today's complicated, shifting, topsy-turvy, politically correct world. But sometimes I'm grateful for the conveniences we enjoy – such as air conditioning and medical advancements.

And I'm glad I missed July 14, 1954.


Wes Franklin writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.