To The Herald-Whig:
In the annals of unforgettable summer, 2011 will long be remembered proved to be a doozy.
First, there was a calamitous windstorm in late June that demolished many of Quincy's stately old trees. Then, on the national battlefield of politics, there was a bruising, extended fight between Democrats and Republicans over the debt ceiling, a bitterly contentious issue that many thought would never end.
During this topsy-turvy summer of discontent, a nervous, volatile Wall Street tanked several times, yet somehow managed to recover much of its losses. These wild gyrations were due largely to nagging worries about the global financial crisis, but concern about America's high unemployment figures also contributed to investors jitters.
August brought several unscheduled events to the East Coast. An earthquake struck the Washington, D.C., area and was potent enough to damage the Washington Monument and the Washington National Cathedral. This monster was soon followed by a menacing hurricane called Irene, which also traveled up the East Coast. While Irene did not turn out to be the lollapalooza that had been predicted, the heavy rain, storm surge and severe flooding was felt as far north as New York City and the New England states.
As for the weather, 2011's searing heat was the most relentless and unforgettable in at least half dozen years. At the sticky pinnacle of midsummer oppressive heat wave, I often recall the zany little ditty from my 1930s childhood:
When it gets too hot for comfort
And you don't have ice cream cones
It ain't no sin to take off your skin
And dance around in your bones
There were always moments, alas, when I thought I'd like to indulge in the bizarre, outrageous fantasy myself, at least during these trying times when the weather turned deadly, in the seemingly interminable, hot, muggy days of midsummer and early August.