Record Heat in 1936

Thursday, July 20th 2006, 10:31 am
By: News On 6

Temperatures soared past the century mark again Thursday. Many Tulsans say they've never seen anything like it. That may be true, but they just weren't born early enough.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg looks back at Tulsa's 'hot' history.

The hottest that Tulsa "ever" got was 70 years ago, back in 1936, when the temperature hit 115 degrees. It also saw 26 days in a row where it was above 100.

The day was August 10th, 1936, when the temperature was recorded at a mind-boggling 115 degrees. "Well I remember I was in junior high school in 1936." There are still plenty of people around like Jim Blazer who can remember that heat wave, although he might just as soon forget. "I just remember that it was so hot that we could barely get out breath."

Many deaths were reported in the newspaper. With practically no air-conditioning, you might wonder how "anyone" survived. "We didn't know any different." Virginia Carlson says most people slept outdoors. "You'd go outside. We spent a lot of time outside." Jim Blazer: "Well, we didn't know what air-conditioning was unless we went to a movie theater.”

Mildred Dearing: “Course they were pretty expensive, it was 15 cents to go to a movie. The only air-conditioned buildings that I can remember in downtown Tulsa were the Sears store and the drug store across the street. Sears and that drugstore were busy."

Blazer says they also had air coolers or swamp-coolers, a contraption where water would drip in front of a fan. "It was better than nothing, but it was pretty rank."

As you've probably noticed on the news, a huge share of Tulsa’s heat records was set in 1936. Jim Blazer: "It seemed like it was hotter, and every day it was hot."
Blazer remembers how silly he thought it was when they first put air-conditioning on cars. Not anymore. "My wife just took me to the doctor's office and we had it on full blast."