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I just tore up the 'cuff I had written for this week. That's a far cry from the way it used to go. Then, in those years gone by, it was "sit down at the typewriter and write a bunch of paragraphs to fill up a hole in that week's paper, since there wasn't anything to put in that hole." To clarify, that was back in the days when thousands of words each week were formed on little lead "slugs" that came out of a Linotype.

What's that, you ask? It's a machine that an operator sat at and typed away on a keyboard completely different from a typewriter (huh ... what's that?) Anyway, out of that machine called a Linotype would come little-shaped pieces of lead that contained words on one line. Hence the name Linotype. It took hundreds, and in large dailies thousands, of those little "slugs" as they were called.

Anyway ... I use that word too often ... anyway, to get a 'cuff, I sit down at the old Underwood typewriter that has been replaced by computers, their keyboards, laptops and, now, even cell phones. We've come a long way, baby ... at least that's an old saying that still has a bit of meaning.

I had finished this week's cuff yesterday (more than a week before you're reading these few lines). And the 'cuff was a doozie, whatever that is. I read it over, shook my head and ripped it up. So we're off on a new journey and who knows how it will turn out.

Let's just talk about driving east at sunup every morning, or west that afternoon. Fun, isn't it? Especially when that setting or rising sun is directly low and bright. It happens for a week or two a couple of times every year, late autumn and prespring. It doesn't make for very pleasant driving. Mom Nature runs her well-traveled route on schedule, just to prove she is still in control, in spite of all mankind or womankind does to get her off track.

Anyway ... there he goes again ... all of this has been a lead-in to my twice a year adjustment to our old favorite ... sound the drumroll, please ... Daylight Saving Time. It ought to be in all-capital letters or at least in bold black type, but that drumroll will have to suffice.

Does that twice-a-year adjustment to man-made time change bother you? Some people seem to get off or get on the wagon in trying to get themselves back on schedule. Others? Doesn't faze 'em a bit. Isn't it nice everybody isn't the same? That in spite of the government which tries in so many ways to make us all march to the same drummer, regulate our salt intake, tell us not to eat eggs followed by a correction sometime later ... it goes on and on until we fall in line, like kindergarten kids ... at least in many areas of our lives.

Anyway ... I've decided I'm not gonna worry about adjusting to daylight savings time this year. Fat chance! It's easier now that there is not a daily, ready schedule for me. Just one of the positives which compensates for the fact that remembering schedules, times and requirements don't pop up in regulated fashion. Still, fat chance!

So now, an abrupt change to the word "forty." Have you ever wondered why there is no "u" in forty?

As many long-time 'cuff readers know, yours truly has operated (that's an inappropriate word) the Weather Bureau weather station (now NOAA) in Gravette for many years. I read the highs and lows and present temps at about six o'clock each evening and measure the amount of precipitation that has fallen during the past 24 hours. It makes it a little confusing when a 65 degree present reading at 6 p.m. on Friday could be recorded as the high temp for the next day's reading even if the temp has dropped forty degrees sometime after midnight. Confusing? Yep. Just like most government statistics, I guess.

Anyway, I've been looking through the local weather logs dating back to 1926, when A.F. Stevens was the "weatherman." Those following him were Max (Schmidt) Bishop, Julius Schmidt, Elson Schmidt and, finally, Glenn Justice who passed the job -- well-paying, that is -- to me in January 1978. Forty years ago! It's fun and challenging to read those old carbon copies which are now tattered and in many cases barely readable. I've been attempting to compile basic temp and precip statistics in a form that I can pass on to whoever takes over my job. I'm sure the salary will be doubled by then -- zero times two is ...?

Anyway ... yep, there I go, it just hit me, I've trudged -- is that fun? -- to that weather station and precipitation gauge some 14,000 times ... Whoopee. Let's see, since it's about 75 feet, round trip, how many miles is that? Who cares? I don't. But if somebody wants to figure it out for me, I'll appreciate knowing the figure so I can figure how that walk has lengthened my lifespan. What makes the "job" so interesting is wading through eight inches of snow, melting frozen ice to measure the precip, fighting off mosquitoes during late summer evenings, tipping the umbrella so rain runs down my collar, swatting wasps that enjoy building nests in the little building/station and, of course, there's ice ... I'm quitting there.

Now what about forty? How does 2018 compare with those first two months of the year forty years ago? Figures recorded at the Gravette station showed January with eleven total inches of snow scattered during 20 days of the month. The coldest temp was a minus two, with most of the month below the 32 mark. School was dismissed on 10 days.

Eleven days of school were missed in February when more than 16 inches of snow was recorded. The low temp for the month was minus four and there were at least a dozen subfreezing days.

March warmed, with only four inches of snow one day, which resulted in another lost school day -- a total of 22 days resulted in the Arkansas Department of Education permitting just 169 of the required 175 days. Graduation in Gravette was held May 26.

Schools in Gentry were out of class 18 days, with Decatur dismissing classes 15 days. Now that was a rough winter.

Unless one of those surprise March blizzards blows in, things are on course for an uneventful ending for schools. Maybe by graduation, we'll all be on time with that man-made tick-tock plan.

A bowl of snow ice cream really tastes good!

Dodie Evans is the former owner and longtime editor of the Gravette News Herald. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 03/07/2018

Print Headline: Forty and counting

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