Washington in the Summer

Herbert Hoover in summer attire, ca. 1917.

by Matthew Schaefer

Later this July, baseball’s annual All-Star Game will take place in Washington DC.  Among the featured stories that week will be the brutal heat and humidity attendant on any summer event in Washington.  Washington’s weather in the summer should surprise no one as the town is laid out on what had been a swamp.

Lou Henry Hoover offered her sharp insight into the realities of Washington in the summer; in an undated essay, she described the season this way:

‘Which is in truth most of Washington all the time.  For like most other towns it does not vary greatly from winter to summer, except as to living conditions altered by temperature.  An oft-repeated expression of communication to a visitor is: ‘Ah, were you in Washington in July? What a pity! Of course there was no one left in town.’

Which is a puzzle to the hearer who had spent a week or two there during which time she had found the streets and shops full of well-dressed people, moving about, to be sure, at a leisurely pace.  She had difficulty finding convenient parking places when she drove into the shopping area.  Vaudeville and moving picture houses were crowded.  Her friends had numerous pleasant lunch and tea and dinner parties with her hostess, meeting many charming people, just the kind she liked best to associate at home, whatever that kind might be and wherever home was.’

Lou Hoover’s sunny optimism is evident, even when facing the sweltering, oppressive closeness of Washington summer society.

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