Friday, April 03, 2009

The retiring type

When I moved to Buffalo in 1970, I had the chance to watch Canadian television on a regular basis for the first time. The CBC's CBLT and CTV's CFTO (Channels 6-but-later-5 and 9 respectively) along with Hamilton's independent station, CHCH, beamed into Western New York.

There were two bits of noteworthy programming, if you don't count the regular hockey broadcasts of the Maple Leafs. Channel 11 used to show uncut R-rated movies starting at midnight late Fridays. I'm not sure how many parents realized that fact, but let me assure you that it did not escape the attention of the youngsters in Western New York's schools in that era.

Then there was the CFTO late news, which ran from 11 p.m. to 12:05 a.m. That in itself was unusual because of the length of the show; the American stations stuck to a half-hour. CFTO gave sportscasters Pat Marsden and Fergy Olver all sorts of time to give scores, reports and highlights. Heck, the station showed brief pay-per-view fights like Frazier-Foreman the same night they were held in their entirety.

Inevitably, I would watch Johnny Carson's monologue before switching to CFTO at around 11:40. (School didn't start until 9, by the way.) Before the sports came on, I would see Dave Devall, the weatherman.

Devall had the greatest gimmick ever by weatherman standards. He stood behind a clear plexiglass map, either of the nation or the region, facing the camera with magic markers. As he would talk about the weather, he would write down words, numbers and symbols on to the glass.

Here's the catch -- he was writing backwards with either hand, so that it would come out "normal" for the viewer. Have you ever heard of anyone being able to do that with a "good" hand, let alone both?

Devall is retiring today after 48 years on the job. He set a world record for longest tenure as a weathercaster; you can read about it here.

I once saw Devall at a golf outing, and he seemed outgoing and friendly to all. Best of luck in retirement, Dave, and be sure to start writing "normally" from now on.

1 comment:

CW said...

I remember the "blue" movies showing on Toronto's UHF Channel 79 late on Saturday nights. It was well publicized through the word of mouth network in my junior high school.