HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

February 11, 1989

Hey, they’re, Udo!–

Just in case you haven’t been following the weather in The Big Tomato with your customary assiduity, here is the straight skinny: last summer we had the longest spell on record of temperatures over 100.  This winter we are having the coldest weather ever recorded here, as far back as Cortez (or De Soto or Vasco Da Gama … one of them).  Temperatures in the mid-twenties, and frozen pipes to prove it (fortunately not ours, so far.)  Snow is predicted if a weather front that would normally bring rain is able to move in off the Pacific in the face of two high-pressure systems.  I realize that this would be short sleeve weather in Stamford.

Anyway, there’s no greenhouse effect here.  In the summer we have the Hot-House Effect, and in the winter the Ice-House Effect.  Climatologists will just have to classify The Big Tomato as a separate climatic zone.  Local politicians, who are strongly for motherhood and against crime, will jump on this magnetic issue like iron filings, as soon as they finish counting the payoff money they get from developers.  The Bee will headline it: “EXPURTS SAY LOCAL CLIMAT UNEAQIUE! Storie On Page Twentie Sevan. (The edition will have twenty-two pages.)

Watch for this on the 11:00 o’clock news, sponsored by your local IGA store.

WEATHER WRAP-UP:  I may have told you about another of The Bee’s award-winning performances last summer but, if not, I shall repeat it for the record.

During the spell when the weather was between 110 and 115 for a week or ten days, the wire between the official temperature recorder and the sensor broke down.  The sensor is on the roof of the main post office downtown.  So The Bee dutifully noted on Day One of the breakdown that an official temperature was not available, and they published the temperature at the airport, which is always lower.  This went on for a week or ten days–explanation printed every day–until apparently some irate reader called in and asked how many Bee reporters were needed to fix a broken wire.  At that, several reporters–all skilled in wire repair–scrambled over to the post office with their pliers and tape, ready to take the kind of prompt action for which The Bee is well known.  In a frame of mind to take only, “yes” for an answer–true civic dedication–they demanded to be told how to get up on the roof.  They were instructed without hesitation, and rushed down the hall and up the stairs to the door that led to the roof.  It was, of course, locked.

Not to be thwarted, they returned in a body and demanded the key.  After a lengthy search, the key could not, of course, be found.

So, you might be motivated to say, the reporters rushed once more to the door that led to the roof and battered it down.  Not at all.  They returned to their desks and wrote the story, which was published in the tradition of full disclosure.

Whereupon, you might again be motivated to say, the editor got on the phone and threated the post office with an embarrassing article if the door key didn’t turn up.  Not at all.  About a week after the explanatory article appeared, the wire was somehow fixed (possibly by the irate reader) and the official temperature could be published once again.  In the meantime, no official reading were logged during the most prolonged heat wave in the city’s history.  The Bee made no mention of that: another judgment call.

The New York Times does not need to worry about losing circulation to The Bee.  (In case they were worrying.)

The only other exciting prospect just now is the possibility of winning the lottery tonight, which is at $12,000,000.  When we win, we plan to buy a vacation home in Palenville, and you can all drive over for a visit, and we will take you to the local IGA, where you can load up on Real Groceries.

Then you can drive to Santa Fe and see the ever-popular John Herzog in “Uncle Vanya.”

Can you handle that many thrills, one right after the other?

Fred C. (“your friendly neighborhood…”) Dobbs

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