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Greater Boston Residents Try To Beat The Heat04:30
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Children splash through the water by the fountain at the summer opening of Boston's Frog Pond. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Children splash through the water by the fountain at the summer opening of Boston's Frog Pond. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

ACME Dry Ice Owner Mark Savenor conducted a busy ballet of men, dry ice, cardboard boxes, plastic bins, pallets and forklifts in Cambridge Tuesday morning.

Savenor said he couldn't help but feel like a hero, supplying ice cream trucks and restaurants with much-needed supplies to keep things cool amid a heat wave.

"I am the original Ice Man," Savenor said. "Listen, I'm chillin' like a villain, but the heat is definitely the villain today because I'm telling you, it came on so strong so fast. There's no help around."

Boston reached 99 degrees Tuesday and temperatures are forecast to hit 96 degrees in Boston Wednesday.

At the main branch of the Boston Public Library, Rebecca Elliot, 23, said she had been coming to read regularly for the past few days to take refuge from her hot home.

Elliot, who lives in Fenway,  said she is waiting for an air conditioning unit to be delivered.  But in the meantime, the library is the best place to chill out.

"I try to stay here until it closes, like around 6 o'clock, and then I'll go to my house and just kinda survive until the air conditioning comes," she said.  "But it's coming today, so I should be good."

Rebecca Elliot took refuge from the heat at Boston Public Library as she awaited the delivery of an A/C unit. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)
Rebecca Elliot took refuge from the heat at Boston Public Library as she awaited the delivery of an A/C unit. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)

Elliot said plans to continue to visiting the library even after her air conditioning unit arrives, "but I won't be here by force anymore."

Tom Cooper, 72, who lives in the South End, was also seeking refuge in the library.

"I tried a few things, but I even think it's too hot in the shade right now," he said.

Cooper has lived in Boston since the mid 1970s and said this is probably the worst heat he's experienced in all those decades

"It's early for this to happen, I think," he said. "You expect it in July and August. Not in June."

Jeremiah, who was carrying most of his belongings in a shopping cart downtown because he is unhoused, said he was headed to South Station to cool off.

He said he tried to get a cold shower Tuesday morning at St. Francis House near Boston Common, but was minutes too late.

"They said it's only from 7 to 11:30 a.m., so I got turned around," said Jeremiah, who asked that his last name not be used because he had trouble with law enforcement. "It sucks."

St. Francis couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Jeremiah, who is unhoused, heads to South Station in Boston to cool off. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)
Jeremiah, who is unhoused, heads to South Station in Boston to cool off. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)

Since Jeremiah couldn't take a shower, he said he'd try to cool off in a restroom in South Station.

"Sometimes [station workers are] jerks, sometimes they let you stay inside without saying anything to you, as long as you have a mask on," he said.

But some people embraced the heat and found ways to be outside. Like Rachel Smith who brought her three kids to the Boston Common Frog Pond.

"We heard about these fountains and that there was a carousel and lots of stuff for kids to do," said Smith, who was visiting from Virginia. "We were all boiling hot walking over here. We were searching for this for about a half hour."

Her 5-year-old daughter, Riley, said this is some of the worst heat she's ever experienced, but cooling off at the Frog Pond has been the best part of her trip so far.

Andy Cavanaugh of Middleborough also came to Boston Common Tuesday to try to earn money playing guitar.

Cavanaugh played Bob Dylan's "Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather." One of the lyrics is "take heed to the stormy weather."

He said he believes that more frequent heat waves are a byproduct of a warming planet. He noted the lakes near his more have been a few inches lower than usual as well.

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"It's global warming,"  Cavanaugh said.

Andy Cavanaugh of Middleborough came to Boston Common Tuesday to try to earn money playing guitar. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)
Andy Cavanaugh of Middleborough came to Boston Common Tuesday to try to earn money playing guitar. (Quincy Walters/WBUR)

Though no single heat wave can be directly linked to climate change, the  constellation of record temperatures is consistent with forecasts. A report from Climate Ready Boston predicts the city could  see up to 40 days every summer with records of 90 degrees or higher by 2030, up from a dozen days a year now.

Boston is exploring ways to tamp down the heat waves, such as adding green space to reduce the heat from concrete and steel.

Back at ACME Dry Ice in Cambridge, Savenor, sported a sweat-soaked t-shirt that read "The Ice Man Cometh."

"These heat waves come upon you all of a sudden and you have to be prepared and just know how to handle it," he said.

Because there might come a time soon when Ice Man can't save the day.

With additional reporting by WBUR's Miriam Wasser.

This segment aired on June 30, 2021.

Related:

Quincy Walters Twitter Reporter
Quincy Walters is a general assignment reporter for WBUR.

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