January 10, 1950 – if you were living in San Francisco, this day in 1950 fell on a Tuesday. It was a typical day – mostly uneventful. It was raining (as usual), it was cold (as usual) and it was windy. The big item for discussion on this day were the flags which flew from the Telephone Building on New Montgomery Street. Aside from the American flag and the California flag were other flags of different shapes and colors. On this particular morning, a red pennant was flying – and it signified small craft warnings in the Bay from stiff gale-force winds. The flag on the Telephone Building loomed some 490 feet above the street, and was visible to everyone in the San Francisco Harbor.
Announcer Jim Grady explained the significance and meaning for a whole range of flags which flew each day above the Telephone Building. How each of them spelled various weather conditions and predictions for the San Francisco Bay area over the course of the day.
Satellites were unheard of in 1950, weather prediction was sketchy at best and radar was still developing and perfecting for weather prediction. San Francisco, which has always had more than its fair share of storms and windy conditions seemed hard-pressed to accurately predict what the weather was going to be like from one hour to the next, let alone one day to the next. It was just the nature of weather prediction, and it was the same all over the country.
But this was San Francisco, by it’s own admission “a wonderful city”, and pretty much agreed on by everyone who walked the brisk and wind-swept streets on any given day.
So this was what January 10th sounded like in 1950 – rainy, cold and windy and with a chatty/folksy atmosphere via radio which was so prevalent at the time. With commercials seamlessly intertwined into the show, as if to suggest everyone in San Francisco loved fried food and needed to cook with Spry Cooking oil.
Things just moved slower then – even the weather.
Here is that snapshot of life in San Francisco, this day 66 years ago. No doubt, the kid in the photo, sullenly walking behind his mother, is now on Social Security. Reality checks.