Weather Watch

Learning from Dad to love weather

Special to The TribuneJune 15, 2013 

My father and our agrarian neighbors often spoke in “weather almanac.” They talked about average rainfall or high and low temperatures that were expected on a certain day. If it was early in the year, they attempted to predict the last morning freeze before they planted their gardens with the hope of ripened tomatoes by the Fourth of July. They told stories about the great floods in 1964 that ravaged Northern California, or the record rains in 1969. I was intrigued.

Like many living near coastal communities in California, most people in Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County where I grew up, didn’t have air conditioners in the 1960s or ’70s. Instead, they relied on the coastal sea breezes to cool things off at night. When we did have a heat wave that produced sweltering overnight temperatures and made it nearly impossible to fall asleep, my dad would say, “Don’t worry; heat waves only last three days before the marine layer comes in to cool things off.”

You see, he knew about hot and muggy overnight temperatures. He grew up in Tennessee, and in World War II he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces as a radio operator onboard a B-17 Flying Fortress in North Africa. The air temperatures in that part of the world are some of the hottest on earth; even for a young man from Tennessee, they were oppressive.

One time, the air crews gathered drinks and loaded them in the aircraft and soared to more than 25,000 feet, where the temperature was well below zero. Before long, they had ice-cold beverages for the troops below.

After he left the service, he moved to California and married my mother, Jean Marie. They had three children. I came first and was followed by Michelle and Catherine.

Tragically, my mom passed away from cancer at age 26. My dad was left to raise the three of us. We hadn’t even started kindergarten.

Like so many other single dads and moms who love their children with all their hearts, he found the strength to raise us along with help from my grandmother, Francis.

For his livelihood, he sold yellow International Harvester heavy equipment and later green John Deere tractors.

One fateful day, my dad showed us how to play “Kick the Can.” Every evening for years after that, the neighborhood kids would gather at our home and play into the night. The only worry I had at the time was being tagged before I could kick that ball.

In 1988, he passed away from a heart attack at age 66. It was the worst day of my life. On that day, my sisters and I lost both our mom and dad. It’s made me enormously grateful for my wife, Trisha. On Father’s Day, I think about my dad a lot.

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Here is a story Jonathan Marshall wrote in his NEXT100 blog that could prove invaluable for those who own or are thinking of owning an electric vehicle. “Drivers: How to Fuel Up for Only $1.50 an ‘eGallon’ ” can be found at“egallon”.

John Lindsey’s column is special to The Tribune. He is a media relations representative for PG&E and a longtime local meteorologist. If you have a question, send him an email at

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