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It’s still hot in the New York/ New Jersey metro area and New York magazine took that opportunity to reprint a piece by Arthur Miller from June 22, 1998 called “Before Air Conditioning”.

It included this rendition of the experience of a cutter in Miller’s dad’s coat factory.  As a workers’ compensation lawyer I was struck by the account:

Given the heat, people smelled, of course, but some smelled a lot worse than others. One cutter in my father’s shop was a horse in this respect, and my father, who normally had no sense of smell—no one understood why—claimed that he could smell this man and would address him only from a distance. In order to make as much money as possible, this fellow would start work at half past five in the morning and continue until midnight. He owned Bronx apartment houses and land in Florida and Jersey, and seemed half mad with greed. He had a powerful physique, a very straight spine, a tangle of hair, and a black shadow on his cheeks. He snorted like a horse as he pushed the cutting machine, following his patterns through some eighteen layers of winter-coat material. One late afternoon, he blinked his eyes hard against the burning sweat as he held down the material with his left hand and pressed the vertical, razor-sharp reciprocating blade with his right. The blade sliced through his index finger at the second joint. Angrily refusing to go to the hospital, he ran tap water over the stump, wrapped his hand in a towel, and went right on cutting, snorting, and stinking. When the blood began to show through the towel’s bunched layers, my father pulled the plug on the machine and ordered him to the hospital. But he was back at work the next morning, and worked right through the day and into the evening, as usual, piling up his apartment houses.

Stay cool.  Karim.

Weehawken has opened two cooling centers open at the Senior Nutrition Center at 201 Highwood Ave. and the Senior Housing Building at 525 Gregory Ave. They will remain open today from 9 a.m. until midnight.
Union City is offering the Bruce Walter Recreation Center at 507 West St. from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and the senior center at 3700 Palisade Ave. from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today as cooling centers.
Families in Union City can also cool down at the three pools in Union City located at the Bruce Walter Recreation Center, Firefighters Memorial Park and the Ronald Dario Swimming Complex.
The town of Guttenberg‘s cooling center is located in the municipal building at 6808 Park Ave. and will be open to residents from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. tonight.
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