STOCKBRIDGE — Nesbitt H. Bangs would not presume to predict what the weather is going to be. "I can just tell you what the weather is," he insists.
Mr. Bangs received an award from the U.S. Weather Bureau recently for his record of some 35 years as local volunteer weather observer.
Since 1930 he has faithfully recorded amounts of rainfall and snow accumulation as well as minimum and maximum temperatures from readings taken daily behind his home at The Knoll, Main Street. His records are sent weekly to the Environmental Sciences Administration in Boston, of which the Weather Bureau is a section.
Mr. Bangs, who will be 69 next week, has been interested in weather phenomena, "particularly thunder storms," since he was a small boy. His family came here from New York in 1902 as summer residents. He and his wife, who is originally from Albany, moved here permanently in 1929. He has lived in "16 or 17 different houses" in Stockbridge in the last 60 years.
Mr. Bangs, who tells a good yarn, recalled recently some of the high points of his career as a weather observer. He remembers December 1948 for the heaviest rainfall he ever recorded — some five inches in one day of a three-day storm which poured a total of 11 inches on Stockbridge. "As the ground was frozen, the run-off was tremendous," he noted. The Housatonic River here rose to unprecedented heights.
The lowest temperature Mr. Bangs ever recorded was 29 degrees below zero in January 1938, and the highest was 100 in July 1928. However, this maximum was recorded prior to the time he joined the Weather Bureau program, "before I had adequate thermometer exposure."
St. Joseph's Church here used to insure its annual fair against rain, he recalls. Whether rain fell was verified by Mr. Bangs' rain gauge, which was placed on the lawn of the church the day of the fair. One year he went to retrieve his gauge at the fair's end only to find the event was so successful that everything had been sold, including his measuring instrument. Someone had purchased it as a garden ornament.