It’s a scorchingly hot day in June 1946, in New York City. The action takes place around the stoop of a six-storey walk-up, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Kaplan family live on the ground floor, opposite the Fiorentinos. Above the Fiorentinos live the Maurrant family, and opposite them, above the Kaplans, live the Jones family. Further up in the building are the Buchanans and the Hildebrands. The Olsen’s live in one of the basement apartments, and Henry Davis, the apartment super, lives in the other with his daughter.
As Mrs Fiorentino leans out of the window to try and get some air, she sees Mrs Jones returning home. The ladies complain about the heat, which is growing unbearable (‘Ain’t it awful in the heat’). Hearing their voices, Mrs Olsen also joins the ladies from the cellar. She tells them that on top of dealing with this heat her baby is teething. Even the passersby in the street stop to comment on how hot it is.
Sitting in his window, Kaplan is reading the
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