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arrow Stories and Tales of the Weather Service
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Table of Contents
  Evolution to the Signal Service Years (1600 - 1891)
  Professor Cleveland Abbe
  Isaac M. Cline
  H. B. Boyer
  D. G. Benson
  Henry Calver
  Ford A. Carpenter
  Norman B. Conger
  Henry J. Cox
  John P. Finley
  H. C. Frankenfield 
  Glynn Gardner
  John S. Hazen
  C. F. von Herrmann
  J. W. Smith
  Richard H. Sullivan
  Wilford M. Wilson

signal service years

Personal View of J. W. Smith

While "on station" there were some amusing experiences and a few very unusual ones. One of the former was experienced by my predecessor at a small southwestern station at Corsicana, Texas. He told me that soon after establishing his station he was waited on by a committee, appointed by dissatisfied citizens on account of the very unsatisfactory weather conditions caused by the meteorological instruments as there had been no such weather before "them things were set on the roof." All the explanations that could be made proving unsatisfactory, the official suggested they adjourn to the cafe over the way for further discussion, where it cost our man about $25 for sufficient refreshments to convince the committee that the weather instruments were not at fault.

Even in the early days of the service, visitors often came to see how the weather was made, particularly at stations in large towns and cities. More than a few times I have heard surprise expressed at the small size of the instruments, their insignificance. Quitet a few expected to see quite massive machinery laboring, groaning and belching, for as they thought devices that could record great gales, hurricanes, and storms must be large and complex. Visitors have so stated to me, and expressed disappointment at the quiet, silent method in which the instruments do their work. Few after seeing and having the instruments explained would fully comprehend them.

Many years ago we carefully explained the equipment to quite a distinguished looking party, several persons, and on finishing the story of the wind register, anemometer, etc., the head of the party, as I remember a minister, in commenting said "well it's wonderful how the winds come down those wires and make the records," to which we readily agreed, as more talk was useless.

Weather cranks have been met in all parts where we have served, mostly those who could make much better forecasts than those of the Bureau. One in particular, with considerable local reputation, whose forecasts were often printed by the local papers came to the office for a chat, during which I inquired as to his theories, methods, instruments, etc., if any to which he replied, "Oh, I have none, don't need any; my grandmother could tell the weather, and in the same way I can tell it."

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