Hotter here than in the “Heart of Africa”

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, July 21, 2015

“July in south Mississippi, where it is as hot, steamy, and still as the Belgian Congo in the heart of Africa.”

For some reason, that’s a description that has stuck in my mind for over 40 years. I’ve never been to the continent of Africa, much less to the Belgian Congo, which is now called the Democratic Republic of Congo. But, even as a kid I knew it was near the equator, and that it was probably really hot.

Where did I hear this description of our July heat? First, a little background.

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As a boy growing up in on the Gulf Coast in the 1970s, I, like most of my buddies, was a New Orleans Saints fan. Usually I got the latest news on the Saints from one of two New Orleans sportscasters: Hap Glaudi on WWL-TV, or Wayne Mack on WDSU-TV.

(For those wondering why I wasn’t watching Buddy Diliberto, WVUE’s signal was still too weak for us to receive clearly in rural Harrison County north of Gulfport.)

Both Glaudi and Mack were colorful characters. Glaudi’s thick New Orleans accent occasionally left me puzzled as to exactly what he had just said. I liked Mack’s telecast, partially because I could understand him, but also, because I had been a huge fan of the “Great McNutt,” Mack’s alter ego, who hosted a WDSU show featuring Three Stooges comedy shorts.

One July evening in the early 1970s, I was watching Glaudi or Mack. The Saints were in training camp. Some younger Saints fans may think the team has always held their camps in the mild climates of Wisconsin or West Virginia. But, no, during 1971-1973, the geniuses managing the team sent them to Hattiesburg to train.

As I watched the sports segment that evening, Glaudi, or perhaps it was Mack, said, “Here’s today’s report from Saints training camp with our newest reporter, John Doe.”

Well, it wasn’t John Doe. The reporter’s name has long since escaped me. But, he must have been a new reporter. Why else would he have drawn the short straw of getting to spend afternoons outside in July in Hattiesburg instead of in the air conditioning back in the studio in New Orleans? And, I doubt he was a Louisiana or Mississippi native, because it was obvious from his report, as he stood there sweating on screen, that he was shocked, even dismayed, at how hot it was. And so, he ended his report with, “John Doe, reporting from Saints training camp, here in July in south Mississippi, where it is as hot, steamy, and still as the Belgian Congo in the heart of Africa.”

Actually, over the last several days it has been hotter here in Picayune than anywhere in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our high temperatures have ranged from the mid 90s to 100, and taking into account the high humidity, the heat index has soared up to 115 degrees.

High temperatures are forecast to be “only” in the mid 90s the rest of this week. But, with a high humidity, that’s still hot enough to warrant keeping hydrated and staying in the shade as much as possible during the hottest part of the day.

Or, you could consider a vacation to the Congo to cool off.

By Skip Rigney