Chalk It Up to the Old-Time Weatherman

Chalk It Up to the Old-Time Weatherman

It was the 1960s – long before there were fancy weather graphics and computer animations – just the inimitable Art Gould, meteorologist, with a chalkboard, and a fat piece of white chalk.

I’ve been thinking recently about my fascination with the weather and where that fascination comes from. Like many young “baby boomer” boys, I was intrigued by various aspects of science and my parents encouraged these interests by providing educational books. My favorite was a Time-Life series which delved into space exploration, geology, engineering and of course, weather and its impacts on our lives and the world around us.

But what really got me hooked on the weather, as a kid, was watching our local weatherman on the evening TV news.

Arthur Gould, MeteorologistArt Gould was a true entertainer as well as a qualified meteorologist. Our family would be glued to the black & white TV night after night to watch Art as he wildly scrawled his forcast on the chalkboard weathermap.

I remember watching in eager anticipation as he’d describe a potentially school-closing Nor’easter barrelling towards us.

He’d start by drawing an outline of the advancing system, punctuated with a big “L “in the middle for low pressure. To make sure we knew what we were in for, he’d frantically add a flurry of snowflakes, each consisting of three short, fast strokes, accompanied by numbers and arrows indicating wind speed and direction.

He’d do all this while keeping a consistent eye to the camera (meaning us in our living rooms) and maintaining an informative and entertaining monologue of our impending weather.

Sometimes he’d hit such a frenetic pace you’d see bits of chalk flying as he covered the map with arrows, umbrellas, clouds,and other now-familiar weather icons. He’d wrap it up with a big smile and his signature sign-off – a big swirl of his arm ending with what was left of his chalk pointing at the camera.

Sometimes he’d even throw his chalk in the air for emphasis, if the weather forecast was especially dramatic.

I was hooked.

The weather report is still one of my favorite segments of any evening or late-night news program. The personalities, technology and delivery may have changed since I was a kid, but one thing remains the same – that anticipation of discovering what tomorrow’s weather holds in store.

Author

Solar-powered and semi-retired; a self-confessed hoarder of tool catalogs; big fan of spaghetti and classic chrome.

One comment

  • My childhood memories of watching the weather forecast on TV was looking at a man with a pointy stick standing in front of a large map. I find the whole chalkboard weathermap with Art Gould intriguing. As an adult, I’m hooked on viewing the local weather on the Internet each day. It doesn’t sound nearly quite as entertaining though.

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