“A Long Hot Summer”

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That summer when I worked for Challenge was the first time I had encountered a full East Coast summer. In Oregon, summer temperatures are usually in the low 80’s with no or very low humidity. Evenings are cool and comfortable. In Cambridge, to the contrary, temperatures were in the high 80’s and low 90’s with very high humidity and evenings that never dipped more than 10 degrees or so from the day’s reading.

Here we are returning from a much needed field trip to the beach where we swam, ate and cooled off. Clearly, running after all those kids was exhausting, and someone  snapped this picture of me on the air conditioned bus with a tired student sacked out on me as a pillow.

Our apartment had no cross ventilation and was unbelievably hot at night. I remember my roommate Molly and I taking turns getting in the shower and then standing au naturel in front of a fan, creating our own private air conditioner. Sleep eluded us in the roasting apartment, but we had a good laugh over our cooling strategy.

At the end of the summer, neighbors wanted me to stay in the neighborhood for my senior year in college. We were allowed to live truly off campus as seniors if we wanted. When I told them rents off campus were too high, they assured me that I could have a full flat in one of the triple decker houses for a very reasonable price, at least 1/3 the cost of comparable apartments near Harvard. When I mentioned that, they said they never rented to students. In fact, they never even advertised when apartments were available in the area. It was their own effective hedge against gentrification. While I didn’t move there in the end, I appreciated the offer and realized that I had been accepted as one of the “town” and not the “gown,” a true compliment.

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