photo courtesy Whitehaven High School
Carolyn Smith and Joe Eoff, Whitehaven High School’s “Best Citizens” in 1961
This week, as the sleet rained down upon us and the snowdrifts covered the streets, everybody in Memphis with access to a television, computer, iPhone, or a dozen other devices kept a steady (if somewhat nervous) eye on our region’s weather forecasters. They turned to the comforting words of Dave Brown or Ron Childers, who used all sorts of computers and video screens and special effects to tell us what their “Storm Track 5” or Viper or Doppler radar systems were showing them.
Fifty years ago, it was a much simpler time, in so many ways. In 1961, Whitehaven High School posed some of its top students in various locations around town for yearbook photos, and their two “Best Citizens” — namely Carolyn Smith and Joe Eoff (shown here) — stopped by the WMC-TV Channel 5 studios to be photographed in front of the station’s weather board. Too bad I don’t have a photo of it in action, but really, it wouldn’t be too different from what you see here.
The weatherman of that time (and yes, it would have been a weatherMAN) mainly stood in front of a rather basic map of the United States, and using erasable markers and adhesive stickers (a little sun to indicate “sunny” and a cloud to indicate “cloudy”), indicated to his enthralled viewers just where the high- and low-pressure areas were, where it might be raining or snowing, how hot (or cold) it got, and probably summed it up by telling you whether it had been a good day or a bad day outside.
And look — they even added a big dot, to help Memphis viewers remember just where, exactly, our city was located.
That was pretty much the extent of it in 1961, but really — what more did you need?
And by the way, that “WHS” scribbled on the board in this picture stands for Whitehaven High School — not “wind, hail, and sleet.”