An enormous mass of tropical air drifted up the Mississippi Valley—like a soldering iron being run slowly up a dowager's spine. While chickens fell dead and pavements shimmered like cookstoves, the hot air spread east and west. Soon it was hot from the Rockies to the Atlantic coast. And it stayed hot—hot as Zamboanga in mango-picking time.

Records were broken. Thermometers recorded 107° in Dallas, 98° in Chicago, 100° in Kansas City, 98° in Detroit, 103° in Cleveland, 101.2° in Philadelphia, 100.4° in Boston and 96° in Hell, Mich. In New York, Weather Bureau employees, who work without benefit of...

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