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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Simms
Last week, while discussing the impending snow storm with my daughter-in-law, we were both reading the weather forecast on our respective phones and I laughingly asked her how she would have liked it back when I was a child and the most forecast we received was a phone call to a friend in St Louis; because Daddy said our weather progressed through St Louis first. She was somewhat aghast and I proceeded to tell her a couple weather related memories I had from my childhood.

A little history: “The world’s first televised weather forecasts, including the use of weather maps, were experimentally broadcast by the BBC in 1936. This was brought into practice in 1949 after World War II. George Cowling gave the first weather forecast while being televised in front of the map in 1954. In America, experimental television forecasts were made by James C. Fidler in Cincinnati in either 1940 or 1947 on the DuMont Television Network.In the late 1970s and early 80s, John Coleman, the first weatherman on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America, pioneered the use of on-screen weather satellite information and computer graphics for television forecasts”. (

I was born in 1947 and my earliest recollection of anyone in the family talking about the weather was around 1952; I was visiting my Grandparents and my Grandma had the radio tuned to the local station and the announcer stated he had just had a phone call from a St Louis radio station and it was snowing there. The announcer predicted we could see snow by the next morning. He said if St Louis called back he would update us before the “Arthur Godfrey” show. I had no idea when the show was to be aired on the radio but Granny busied herself to get all her work done before it was time to listen to Arthur. My Dad had a friend in St. Louis and around nine that night he called him and asked about the weather. He was told they had about a foot of snow and Daddy had better be prepared to shovel snow in the morning before he went to work. Daddy worked at the dress factory, as a cutter, in Kincade but he also drove the bus and drove from town to town between Taylorville and Kincade and picked up all the workers. I remember he had to shovel the bus out of a snow drift before he left that morning and Mom made him a larger than normal lunch bag in case he was stranded on the old country roads. Daddy came home very late that night; the bus had been stuck once going to work and twice on his way home. Luckily all the ladies on the bus helped dig out the bus each time it was stranded.

My next weather related memory was the year we bought our first TV set which would have been around 1956. The morning after the TV was installed and hooked up to the giant antenna outside our living room window my Mom turned it on to a morning TV show. At that time we only had one channel because Daddy had dropped the Rabbit Ears and had to go to the store and buy a new one so we would have it that night. All I can recall was that Mom was upset because there was nothing on the TV about the weather and she had to turn the radio on to find out about the storm her neighbor had told her about the night before. She told Daddy the TV was a waste of money and she continued to feel that way until she discovered “As the World Turns” (a TV soap opera) a few months later.

When I was a kid weather reports really did not matter to me and that was a good thing because we were unaware of impending problems and it was fun to get up in the winter to a fresh blanket of snow. I suppose my parents would have liked to know what to expect but it was not a big topic of conversation until it happened. I must have been in Junior High School (about 1959) before we heard the first school related weather warning on the radio and TV. We lived in Decatur at the time and had a big snow fall the day and night before and as I was getting ready to trudge ten blocks to school my Mom called the school to make sure it was open and the secretary told her to turn on WSOY radio station; they would announce school closings or bus route changes. We thought this was a pretty advanced school district to be able to announce this information on the radio before school started for the day. Our daily newspaper would only have a forecast for the next day, my Mom recalls.

I was really glad to have these radio and TV announcements during Junior High School because the walk to my school was long and cold and I always arrived with wet shoes and would be cold all day long; but as my parents would always state “ you have no idea what we had to walk through to get to school when we were kids”. Well, I really did know what they went through because I walked farther than they did when they were kids. Sadly, our house was just one block short of the bus route to school so I had to walk in all weather. As Daddy also stated: “we did not have buses when we were in school”. Ok Dad, you win!

Nowadays we have unbelievable predicting technology; we receive notifications on our phone when one drop of rain falls to the ground and inclement weather is forecast weeks in advance. I don’t know how many times in the last couple years I have prepared for bad weather and it never came to fruition. Is it better to be overly prepared? Not for me. I would rather be surprised. When I was a kid we did not need maps, charts, interactive TV screens or on sight weather reports to tell us of the impending doom. Grandpa’s “lumbago” “muddled up the works” the day before it snowed and he had to rub it’ with “Vicks vaporub”. My Aunt knew the weather was changing because she would get a headache when bad weather was ”on the horizon” and she would boil vinegar on the stove and stand next to the burner and inhale deeply; then she would drink the hot vinegar and miraculously her head ache would disappear.  Granny always knew when it was going to rain; her “bursitis” “acted up” and she would boil onions and wrap them in an old towel and place them on an infected joint; or they would look out at the moon to see if it had a “snow ring” around it.To this day I drink vinegar for a headache and use “Vicks” vaporub” when needed.

Here is a quick Valentine dessert: my son was not fond of desserts as a child and he liked my Mom’s cut out cookies better than he liked mine but I loved to bake and Hubby loved dessert so I always tried to make something special for Valentine’s Day. My go to dessert for my son was to make chocolate chip cookie dough and bake it in my heart shaped cake pan. Long before M&M’s were a popular addition for baking (they came out with the red ones in 1987). I would always buy a couple bags and use the red ones to decorate the large heart cookie for him. One year my in-laws unexpectedly came to Valentine’s dinner and I was worried that my M&M cookie was not fancy enough for dessert so I dyed coconut red and sprinkled it on top of the cookie. The dessert was a hit with the whole family except my son; it was then that I discovered he did not like coconut. From then on I had to make two big cookies, one with coconut and one without. Try it, you just might like it.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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