Hot Wx in SF Redux09/01/17
posted by Paul Judge
Current record-breaking temperatures around the Bay Area make it easy to recall how a rare span of truly hot weather in San Francisco affected the usual habits of family and neighbors while growing in the Outer Richmond in the 1950 & '60s. We all knew that in a matter of days the fog would return life to 'normal mode'. Yet during that interim daily life changed. The direction of the wind announced that the day would be warm or even hot. An offshore wind in the morning brought the fragrance of coffee roasting from the Embarcadero way across the City. A northeast wind brought the odor of petroleum from the oil refineries in Contra Costa or the sweet smell of grasses and earth from the Marin Headlands and rural North Bay. At night to cool the house off all windows would be opened and maybe even the front door to catch any breeze coming in from the ocean. We'd pull off the bed blankets and sleep under sheets or set up camping cots and sleep in the backyard. The evenings would see neighbors sitting on front steps or the sidewalks. Conversations would be exchanged under the street lamps. Maybe coins would appear from the pockets or purse of elders and ice cream would be procured from Frosty Bossy Ice Cream Shop on Balboa. As City kids it was exciting to feel the heat that was customary for cousins and family friends in the warmer suburban and rural areas of the East Bay, Marin, and the Peninsula. It was a rare thrill to hear crickets chirping in the Avenues. A heat wave during the school year made it difficult to concentrate in stuffy classrooms. As teenagers it was assumed pals and associates were heading to surf at Kelly’s Cove after school if indeed one had made it to school at all that day. Crowds flocked to Playland or hung out along the esplanade and seawall. Hot weather induced people unfamiliar with the ocean to over estimate their abilities. Drownings and rescues would occur for those overcome by the cold powerful surf that quickly depleted a swimmer's strength. Way past sunset people gathered around fires on the beach. The screams and laughter of patrons riding the attractions of Playland lasted into the evening. Newscasters and newspaper headlines announced what everyone knew, ‘Heat Wave Hits Record Highs’, etc. Then as expected after a few days household windows were quickly shut as a stiffening breeze dropped temperatures by 30 or more degrees.
Here’s a 2010 Message Board thread entitled, “109 Degrees in San Francisco”