I could handle today’s snowstorm. It wasn’t too bad around here — a few inches of slush that’ll be gone by Monday. And when you grow up in New England, you’re not surprised by snow in April, even if it is Opening Day.
I had a more difficult time dealing with the incessant chattering of the TV weathermen (excuse me, meteorologists) who spent the better part of a week telling us we were going to get a foot of snow. No, wait — just rain. No, 15 inches of snow. No, maybe slush. No, definitely THUNDERSNOW.
Now, I understand these folks have a job to do. And I do want to know the forecast. However, there are so many meteorologists with so many different gadgets that it’s impossible to tell the signal from the static. Do I listen to the weatherman with the most Twitter followers? The biggest Telestrator? The one who is the funniest during the cooking segment? The one who boasts his station’s special Futurecast? (Isn’t every forecast a futurecast? Not sure I’d have much use for a pastcast).
After a few minutes watching forecasts this morning, one thought popped into my head:
I miss Marty
If you grew up in New Hampshire or Maine in the 1970s and 80s, as I did, you were a fan of Marty Engstrom. Marty was an engineer for WMTW-TV (Channel 8 — back when there were only 13 channels, if you were lucky) stationed on the summit of Mt. Washington. It was his job to make sure the station’s transmitter kept working.
But at the end of every newscast, Marty always came on to give the weather report from Mt. Washington. It was just Marty looking straight into the camera, talking with the old northern New England accent that folks like to mock (I don’t — I have relatives who still talk that way, and I find myself falling into it when I spend at lot of time around them). Every once in a while, the summit cat, Pushka, would wander through the shot. At the end, he’d shoot a silly grin. And you’d find yourself grinning back at the TV.
The thing is, we weren’t laughing at Marty. He was one of us. It was like your grandfather or uncle was on the summit, telling you what was going on. No frills, just the info.
Marty retired in 2002 and wrote a book about his time on the mountain. You can still hear his influence in the Mount Washington Observatory’s daily reports. The boy always laughs at me when I tune them in on the car radio as soon as we hit the valley, but I like the rhythm — just people telling you what’s going on on the summits in a mellow voice. No hysteria, no fake friendliness. Just the info.