A deadly heat wave hit Chicago twenty years ago. WBEZ (Chicago Public Media) aired stories about the 1995 heatwave all this week, and when I heard they were looking for personal stories from listeners who’d survived the heat wave I encouraged my niece Janet to send one in. “If WBEZ doesn’t use it, I’ll publish it on our blog. Chicago Public Media’s loss is Safe & Sounds’ gain. Here’s my niece with a guest post about what she was doing 20 years ago.
by Janet May Sterling
During the Heat Wave of 1995, I lived alone in an apartment in Waukegan with a broken air conditioner. I was 25 years old, getting a divorce, and nine months pregnant.
I worked full-time as a Foster Care Worker serving Lake and Cook Counties, and every day I’d see that I was one of many, many who didn’t have working air conditioning. My landlord was sympathetic, but I was on a waiting list for repairs.
So, after work, I would fill my bathtub with ice water and sit in there for hours. I listened to the news on the radio while I was in the tub, and I remember feeling fortunate that I at least had access to finding some relief.
Day after day I’d soak in that tub after work listening to the news on the radio, and day after day more and more people were dying from the heat. Some evenings after my bath I’d head over to Walgreen’s and just walk around the store for an hour or two. The store’s air conditioning was working just fine!
I was a very healthy young pregnant woman, and on July 19, 1995, my daughter Anita Lynn Sterling was born. When we came home from the hospital, my apartment was nice and cool. The repairs were done! Today Anita plays basketball on her college team and is majoring in Sports Management.
Anita turns 20 today, and you can read more about her basketball success (and see photos of her in action) on this post her great Uncle Mike wrote about Title IX last year. Janet raised Anita on her own before marrying hardworking fun-loving Mike Czerwinski, and now Justin, Floey and Ray have Anita as a big sister. At twenty years old, Anita is a caring, loving, talented, witty and, dare I say warm young woman we are all proud of. Happy birthday, dear Anita. Happy birthday to you!