Duquesne’s Hot Fun in the Summertime

I spent the better part of yesterday at my office. The heat was so unbearable, that I decided to chill inside rather than attempt to get into my car and drive home. When I finally decided to go home, I glanced down at the outside temp surrounding my car and was shocked to see it registering 108°!!

 I wondered to myself “how did we manage days like this back in Duquesne?” Quite honestly, I don’t ever recall being as hot. During the day when most of us now are sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned room, as a child, we would be out and about and playing in spite of the heat.

One of our favorite places to beat the heat was at the playground behind the Hungarian Reform Church on Kennedy Avenue. I remember attempting to use the slide, swings or merry-go-round and practically sautéing the backs of my legs if I happened to be wearing shorts! I swear the metal and hard rubber surfaces got hot enough that you could fry up a plateful of halushki! Although most of the playground equipment stood in bright sunshine throughout the afternoon, there was always respite at the tables that were located under the huge trees located on the north end of the playground.

Sometimes, when we weren’t working on some type of craft project, we might be enjoying a small lunch that Mom had packed for us. It might have been as simple as a butter and jelly sandwich, but being able to eat it outside with friends somehow made it extra special and a real treat.

I came across some articles from the Duquesne Times that I thought you’d enjoy. They certainly harken back to those hot summer days in Duquesne!

JULY 7, 1957……………………

JULY 9, 1959……………………………………..

 JULY 1950……………………………..

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6 Responses to Duquesne’s Hot Fun in the Summertime

  1. Bob Chermonitz says:

    Jim, as usual, your memory is spot on! Just how hot did it get back then? As kids I never recall ever asking what the “high” for the day was going to be. We just went out and played, usually in jeans and sneakers and a t-shirt. Naturally we, more often than not, had our baseball glove attached to our belt or on our bicycle handlebars just in case a game broke out and someone threw a bat to begin picking sides. When we got thirsty there was always a garden hose attached to somebodys house and it was better to refresh there than to go home and have your mom make you stay in and get washed up (mom’s just loved “washed up” kids!!). Does anyone remember how many balloon “rings” were left on some outside spigots from water balloons that broke to soon? Nothing was more fun on a summer day than a good water balloon battle! Summer is made for kids. However, I recently discovered that it’s NOT made for adults. About 2 weeks ago or so my A/C went down. Imagine only getting 26yrs out of a whole house unit!(LOL) Anyway, as luck would have it, my cousin is an HVAC specialist and I get a really good family discount. That’s the good news. The bad news is I have to wait until he can get to me. Today he finally got to me and as I write this I am as cool as I can be. But over the last couple of weeks I often reflected on how we survived without A/C. How did our dads get any sleep and yet still go into those mills? I’ve spent alot of time with fans running (I bought a couple for the bedrooms and living room) in addition to my ceiling fans working overtime 24/7. We were able to adapt and spent many nights out on the deck in the not so cool of the evening reflecting on life back then and we came to the conclusion that a better class of people were alive on the earth then and we were apart of them. My wife and I decided that it was not that bad without A/C and that perhaps we should spread the word to this new generation about how life was better back then in Duquesne. We could save the earth if we could only refuse to be artifically cooled! But then the A/C came back on!!!!!! Nah, let someone else save the planet. I’m cranking up the air! 🙂

    • Jim says:

      Bob, I agree with you. I am all for cranking up the air. I will tell you that Duquesne has definately become hotter than when we were kids. Back in 1999 around the time my dad died, I recall going to his house on Thomas Street. The windows had been closed for about a week, and it was mid-July. He had been staying at his sister’s. When I went into the house, every candle throughout the house had drooped and doubled in half due to the heat. I can’t recall it ever being that hot. – Jim

      • Lou A. says:

        Jim, you are right about it being hotter: it’s the trees, or rather, lack of them. I remember being able to walk down Crawford Avenue from Wool Street to the top of Center Street and be shaded by large ‘monkeyball’ trees on both sides of the avenue the entire way. Now many of them are gone and so are many of the houses. Burns Heights is gone – now a fenced in, overgrown wasteland, as you’d imagine after the Bomb fell… People need trees and trees need people. So sad.

  2. Larry McConnell says:

    Hi Jim-Thanks for “Summer Fun” and the news clippings. As a Kennywood employee I remember Italian Day very well. It was the biggest picnic of the year and the best fireworks. I remember walking to the county airport to watch the planes take off and land. We had quite a walk from Duquesne Place! We had acres of woods to play in above Duquesne Place. We also used to go up to the army base and gawk through the fence. All the woods are gone now. The area that was known as the Gypsy camp is now a project and WMNHS is now where the base was. I can’t understand how kids today can spend a whole day in the house glued to a screen.

  3. Cliff Warner says:

    Summer in Duquesne in the 1950’s certainly was great fun. I frequented the same playground you did,the one located behind the Hungarian Reform Church along Hudson Avenue identified as Hudson St. in the second newspaper article you posted. The two playground “teachers” I remember were Barb and Bridget both whom I mentioned in an earlier post. I enjoyed the first article you posted naming the winners of the craft project contests at the various playgrounds. So many familiar names causing young faces from well over a half of century ago to pop into my mind.
    One of the things I remember fondly about this time of year in the weeks leading up the 4th of July is the sound of fireworks. Although they were illegal everyone had firecrackers. The Black Cat brand is the one I remember in particular. When we got older we moved up to cherry bombs then M80’s. Although truthfully I think I had the most fun with the simple firecrackers. Fastening them together and blowing up various tin cans,model airplanes,model cars etc..I find it rather sad that you don’t hear those pops and bangs anymore,at least not here in the neighborhood where I presently live.

  4. Floyd Yokimcus says:

    I played with the GBU Dodgers the first year the little league started along with Chief of Police Richie Adams. The 2nd street playground was out home in the summer when I was goiing to Holy Name School. Spent many aday playing softball and pitching horse shoes most of the day and then rushing home to eat then either come back to play ball or watch the movies

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