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muriel j smith 120 2018Going into August 2019 has meant a lot of hot, humid days, but 75 years ago, when the temperatures for the first half of August were higher  than ever before, the problems it caused were considerably different.

The lack of ice being the major problem.

The Sandy Hook Bay and Bayshore area were on the fringe of heavy thunderstorms as August 1944 began and temperatures in the area dropped from the high 90s where it had been, to a comfortable 67 degrees.

But the respite was temporary, as residents along the Bayshore heard reports of another eight days or so of record-breaking heat.

Electric refrigerators were few and part between 75 years ago, and with high temperatures making it difficult to both produce and keep ice, homeowners were worried about how to keep their  foods cool. Those with electric were helping their neighbors with ice boxes, but even so, according to the Atlantic Highlands Journal, “in this weather ice box capacity is limited and is inadequate for emergency requirements.” Hardest hit were homes with young children.

The high temperatures created another problem besides a shortage of ice. Ice cream manufacturers were unable t o keep up with demand and retail dealers reported they were unable to obtain enough deliveries to meet the demands of the customers.  IN some cases, the newspaper continued, “their stocks were completely exhausted, and they were compelled to suspend operations temporarily.”

And to the dismay of adults along the Bayshore, the high temperatures also severely impacted the cooling and delivery of beer!  “Taverns seemed to be able to get enough barrel beer to keep their bars open, but the package trade is almost non-existent..” Bottled beer, which reports said had  been in short supply for months, was practically out of the market,  and some of the local manufacturers entirely suspended deliveries.

Matters were also serious in Highlands where the town was entertaining the largest group of summer visitors in its history. In the b beginning of August, their water pump had been going through a tough time, parts were breaking and Monmouth Consolidated said they couldn’t help either Highlands or Atlantic Highlands. Highlands sewer engineer Ernest Worth made the necessary repairs to a casing that broke but then he was out sick, and the casing broke again.  Next it was a valve at the pump that gave out, and water had to be shut off for six hours. But water department supervisor Irving Parker worked through the night and “made a remarkably speedy repair.”   Highlands volunteer firemen laid 1000 feet of hose  along Navesink Ave. to pump water from neighboring Atlantic Highlands. After a few days, the neighboring town had to stop their generosity in order to provide enough water for their own residents, leaving Highlands to hope and pray for cooler weather and fewer demands on water supplies.

The only ones really happy those days were students at the Public School. Principal Wilson Wright made the announcement that the opening of school would be delayed from its scheduled Sept. 6 date to Sept. 11  The Journal reported “the children are holding up bravely in despite the bad news.”

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