Summer Heat Sixty Years Ago

Published 3:13 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2022

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Today I bring you a weather report from far away because I figured you know the weather around here. It’s hot! How hot? Glad you asked. I bought a frozen pizza at the local grocery store and, by the time I got home, it was ready to eat. The hens are not only laying hard boiled eggs, I saw one lay an omelet. No joke!

This weather report comes from my daughter’s home up in New York State. She lives in a bedroom community by the name of Baldwinsville. That’s near Syracuse. She called on Father’s Day and told me what a beautiful day it was there. While we were approaching the “century” mark, she and her family had awakened to 53 degrees and the high for the day was in the mid 60’s. Color me green, as in envy.

I was discussing the hot weather with a friend. He’s about my age and we are both farm boys. I reminded him that we used to work in the fields during the summer when we would say it was “100 degrees in the shade.”

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During the summer, when I was a young boy, one of our farm crops was tobacco. The tobacco plant would grow to a height of 6 feet and the stalk had big, green, sticky leaves up and down. The humid air would be stifling, especially when there was no breeze.

I think of our sweet corn fields and how these 100 degree days are literally baking those workers as they walk between the rows, picking the corn. They start early in the day, probably just as the sun is coming up, because to have to work in the middle of the afternoon could be deadly.

Getting back to when I used to work in the fields, I try to think, “Was it this hot way back then?” Of course I was younger and used to it, but I asked my friend if he thought our teenagers could do that today. “No” was all he said.

I sought out the Farmer’s Almanac to see just what the temperatures were like on the farm 60 years ago. I was not surprised that one could “Google” the temperatures from 1962 and, actually, find them. Sure enough the information was available.

I looked at Bainbridge for the weather on June 21, 1962. Except I didn’t live in Decatur County when I was 12 years old and working in tobacco. I lived in Mitchell County near a small town called Meigs. It didn’t matter. I could have looked up Timbuktu and found it. By the way, the temperature for Bainbridge and for Meigs was the same.

The day of the week was Thursday on June 21, 1962 and, yes, I was probably working in tobacco that day. We would begin work around 6:30 in the morning and the temp for that time on that day, 60 years ago, in Southwest Georgia was 73 degrees. Not bad, but the morning dew would have you cold and soaked by the time 7:30 rolled around.

Although there were some days when the temperature would rise into the 90’s, on this day in June, 60 years ago, the high was 89 degrees. Eighty-nine is not all that bad if you’re at Panama City Beach taking a dip in the Gulf of Mexico to stay cool.

But “Croppin that ‘baccer’ in the dog day Georgia sun” could wear you out. But that was my lot in life; to be born on a tobacco farm in Southwest Georgia. And let me say this. I was blessed to work in that field no matter what the temperature.