Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hot box n.1

[hot adj. (5b) + SE box]

1. a difficult situation.

[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 19: Then I commenced to think about getting out of that hot box.
[US]S.E. White Westerners 126: We got here a little late, boys [...] on account of a hot box, but here we are.

2. a tantrum.

[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa (1887) 40: If he got a hot box, and flew around mad, he was better out of church than in it. [Ibid.] 148: When [...] Pa found that I had not carried in the kindling wood, he had a hot box, and he told me if the wood was not in when he came back from the lodge, that he would warm my jacket.
[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Bad Boy Abroad 129: Dad got a hot box, like a stalled freight train.