This has been the coolest New York City summer in my memory. One of the hottest summers I remember is 1961. Each scorcher my brother and I tortured our parents for relief from the heat. Deep into August that year, in the middle of Central Park they gave up.
Here’s the story as it appeared in The New York Times.
Dad had a thing for Bethesda Fountain. Mom loved any reason for getting out of our tiny apartment on East 83rd Street. Our countless adventures in Central Park always included a pass through the plaza and a stroll down Poet’s Walk.
Fifty-three years ago, August 1961, Dad; Mom; my brother, Rory, 5; and I, 7, death-marched through Central Park on a miserable 100 degree day. Fed up with the heat, Rory and I tortured our parents into letting us swim in Bethesda Fountain. They gave in, sick of our whining. We stripped down to our briefs and vaulted over the stone into the water.
The swim lasted a long time. There was a patrolman watching us, and he left us alone. Then his sergeant came by, and the patrolman had to be a cop again. “O.K. kids, get out of there, and stay out,” he said with a grin facing away from his boss. Thanks to Dad’s Yashica 44 camera, here are photos. As we swung our soaked bodies out of the fountain, Bobby Lewis was singing “Tossin’ & Turnin’” on someone’s transistor radio.