Sometimes a swamp cooler just doesn't cut it.

When temperatures pass 100 degrees, Bakersfield resident Joan Bryant said, a cooler, while better than nothing, provides little relief. 

So Bryant, along with more than a dozen others, headed Monday to the East Niles Senior Center, designated as one of the county's cooling centers where seniors and others can gain a respite from triple-digit temperatures. 

"I'll probably be here every day during the heat wave," the 67-year-old said. 

The National Weather Service reported the temperature in Bakersfield at 107 degrees as of 3 p.m. Highs of 110 are expected for Tuesday and Wednesday, and 111 on Thursday. 

Cooling centers in Bakersfield stay open from 1 to 8 p.m. every day the temperature is 105 degrees or higher. 

At the East Niles center Monday, some seniors played UNO, others read magazines and a few just sat and enjoyed being out of the heat.

Ococie Brewer, 79, opened up the senior center Monday and said the turnout was about average. She sat at a table playing what one person described as an "intense" game of UNO, with spoken reminders to check cards and keep the game moving even if you were talking to a reporter. 

It was getting "very, very hot" at the home of 85-year-old Faye Berry before she headed to the center Monday. 

"I feel like I could faint if I stay out there very long," she said. 

Berry and Alice Courson, 80, both have swamp coolers. Courson said her cooler is usually effective, "but it's too hot for me right now." She said on most days she doesn't stay at the center very long, but that may change if the forecast holds.

Another player, Eddie Dix, 91, was the first president of the senior center when it opened in the early 1990s. Whether it's hot or cold, Dix said he's there all the time and enjoys the people. 

The heat doesn't bother him much, nor did it back when he sold cars for Jim Burke Ford.

"I still sell them at night, in my sleep," he said. 

While they played cards, 80-year-old Sharon Vignol sat in another room assembling a 1,000-piece puzzle. Having undertaken the endeavor a couple days ago, Vignol appeared to be about a third of the way through "Pleasures of Winter," which depicts a horse-drawn wagon traveling along a wintry road with snow-topped buildings in the background.

Vignol said she's never been in snow that thick, but she could at least imagine it while avoiding the day's sweltering heat. 

Also in the room where Vignol sat was a bookcase holding magazines and bestsellers by Lisa Scottoline, James Patterson and Nora Roberts.

Bryant sat at a nearby table sewing an insulated steering wheel cover. She said she plans to make a number of them, and possibly sell them. 

How did Bryant come up with the idea to sew steering wheeler covers?

"When I burned my hands on the steering wheel," she said. 

Given that occurred before the current heat wave, she may be on to a lucrative venture.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.