It really was a very bad faux pas indeed. Berkshire folk still were unable to discuss calmly and impersonally as the thawing out process went on at noon today, the Boston weather man's prediction of yesterday that the unprecedented eight days of sub-zero weather would moderate overnight. They were too upset upon being confronted with temperatures ranging down to 39 degrees below zero on identified thermometers and reputedly 56 below on an unidentified one at Becket.

The lowest reported reading of 39 below occurred at the home of Camille Jenkins, Richmond Furnace. He ventured to look at the tube in the grey dawn of 6 a.m., rebounded to the kitchen, hugged the range. No one in the household cared to take issue with his report of what he saw.

Next lowest was 38 below at Dalton. After that came Pittsfield's 30 below, at lower Elm Street. Twenty-nine was registered in several places well scattered about town. Aristocratic old Tory, the official thermometer at City Hall, dignifiedly indicated but 16 below, the same conservative figure that prevailed Jan. 28. 

Support for the ill-inspired Hub weatherman came from one source, however. Nic Sprank, in his Oddities of Science cartoon in the March issue of the Modern Mechanix and Inventions magazine, pointed out that mercury freezes at 39 below. Thus, unless the weird report from Becket originated in an alcohol thermometer, it must have been overdrawn.

Life in Pittsfield went on as usual today as an inured citizenry merely shivered and shook and pursued its routine. Outdoor emergency works projects did not halt due to the cold and School Superintendent Edward S. Russell reported normal attendance at the seats of juvenile learning. The only complaints, he said, were from overworked janitors over musclebound conditions from excessive shoveling of coal.

Coal dealers, incidentally, were hard put to make deliveries. One concern had trucks on the road as early as 7 o'clock.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.