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January 1959
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Tuesday, 20 January 1959 Melbourne
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January 1959 was the last month I spent in Australia before leaving for overseas for 38 years. I was 10 years old at the time. January is school holiday time in Australia—typically schools go back after Australia Day on 26 January, but since we left in early February, I didn't return.

This page is written mainly from memory, 50 years later. I can't recall the exact dates, of course, but it must have been about 20 January when we had the mother of all heat waves. In those days temperatures were measured in ° Fahrenheit, though even at the time, as the boy scientist I wanted to be, I looked down on these obsolete units. The temperatures hit 104°F (40°C), and then climbed up to about 116°F (about 47°C). My recollection is that these temperatures went on for nearly a week, and then dropped back to a “cool change” of about 40°C, though other reports say it was only 3 days “over 40°”.

Times were different then, of course: we didn't have air conditioners, and we lived in the middle of Melbourne. The only way to cool down was to fill the bath tub with lukewarm water and sit in it for a while. On the other hand, I don't recall having power failures.

One memory I have is when I went into town to a company called Keoghs (I think that was the spelling; I never found out how to pronounce it), who sold chemical reagents. I was a good customer of theirs. On this occasion I arrived behind somebody else. The salesperson asked “What would you like, sir?”, and he replied “A cold beer and a cool change”.

My own measurements of the temperature were based on the melting point of Sodium Thiosulphate, which is slightly over 49°. I was hoping that it would melt, and indeed it seemed to become moist; but I suspect that that was mainly moisture, and the temperature probably didn't go over 48°.

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