When I was a kid, my dad would tell me great stories of the summer of 1936. The details of the extreme heat, dust storms, and true or not, his story about being able to throw a rock across a nearby lake (which is usually about 200 yards wide). Perhaps what fascinated me the most was that he slept outdoors as it was too hot to sleep inside because as a kid, sleeping outside without a tent sounded like a dream come true.
As I was finishing up graduate school, I was to some degree able to live through my own 1936, the summer of 1988. Granted, the heat was not quite as extreme, but the number of 90 degree days was about the same. Plus, although I did not have an air conditioned room, two fans placed in the window allowed me to spend those summer nights inside, not outside, yet, I felt like I at least could understand to a small degree what my dad lived through a bit better than I did previously.
Another generation was born and never really experienced a hot summer, until perhaps this year. My dad had 1936, my summer was 1988 and perhaps my kids will tell stories about the summer of 2012.