When my wife Mary Jane and I walked out of our apartment building on the way to Mass on Sunday morning, it seemed as if we had stepped into a Casa Grande, Ariz., afternoon.
However the temperature was not 100 degrees, so it was not Casa Grande. As we drove to church we saw the temperature as 89 degrees on the Nelson Corp. outside thermometer and west a bit on 13th Avenue North, the temperature was 90 degrees at Evangelical Free Church, and it was only 10 a.m.
Since then the temperature has been over 90 degrees every day and even reached 100. That is very warm even for only one day.
The warmest I can remember it being in Clinton was during July 1936, when the temperature reached 100 degrees or more for a stretch of 13 consecutive days — from July 5 through July 17 when it was 101 on both dates.
Throughout the period, residents seeking relief from the heat slept on porches, in front yards and many in Riverfront park.
The temperature held at 101 from July 5 through July 9 except for a reading of 103 on July 6. A high of 101 was reached on July 7, 101.5 on July 8, and back to 101 the next day.
High temperatures of the day reached 104 on July 10 and 105.4 on July 11 before a record-breaking 108 on July 12.
The Clinton Herald in a July 13 story reported, “Perspiring brows were mopped today by Clintonians who gazed hopefully into the west in search of possible relief from record-breaking heat which has gripped the middle west the last 10 days.
“Temperatures here yesterday set a new all-time record of 108 degrees. Local weather bureau readings of more than 60 years fail to reveal anything higher than the 106 degrees of July 21, 1901,” the report said.
“Coolest Clintonians this week are employees of the air-conditioned tea rooms,” reported the Herald. “And they are kept active by running around waiting on customers driven in by the outside heat. Clinton Company employees are being given salt tablets to prevent heat prostration.”
The Clinton temperature on July 14 was 108, and on the same day it was 110.8 in Davenport and 112 in Waterloo.
Scattered showers drifted over much of Iowa on Saturday, July 18, bringing some relief from the furnace-like heat that held sway for 15 days. The Clinton temperature held at 92 degrees.
The slight cooling off lessened the heat death toll that had reached 423 in Iowa since July 3.
George Kampling is a staff and sports writer for the Clinton Herald. He is a former sports editor at the Herald.