You Don't Know Dick

Cleveland's king of meteorology does more than just make the weather.

Dick Goddard Fireside Book Shop, 29 North Franklin Street in Chagrin Falls 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, December 13, free; call 440-247-4050.

Dick Goddard's Almanac for Northeast Ohio 2003 is filled with disposable facts. Did you know that Ohio has the only state flag that's not rectangular? Or that autumn is the worst season for stargazing?

As longtime chief meteorologist at WJW-TV 8, Goddard knows his weather. He's also a local history buff, which explains the copious reference material stuffed into his book. But the Almanac offers yet another outlet for Goddard.

Forty-one years ago, Disney offered the then-recent college grad a choice gig as a cartoonist. "The same week I had a chance to try TV, I got a letter from Disney saying, 'We'd like to talk to you. We think we have something for you,'" Goddard explains. He passed. And ever since, his creative energies have been directed into production of his annual almanac.

It's a perfect marriage: Goddard's charming designs illustrate monthly headings, and his drawings accompany stories about the state's official animal, bird, insect, and flower. He also wrote several of the book's historical essays, on subjects like the seven U.S. Presidents who hail from the Buckeye state. And his pals at the TV station chip in short essays on topics such as religion, animals, and astronomy.

Proceeds from the sale of the book benefit animal charities in Northeast Ohio. "I've become the animal advocate," Goddard says, "and I'm proud of it." He's also pleased with a story he reported about cruelty to pets -- a story that not only increased public awareness, but also helped pass the national Dog and Cat Protection Act, which makes it illegal to import and sell items made from pelts of domestic doggies and kitties.

And if Goddard's book isn't packed with enough weather, astronomy, humor, and history to hold your interest, by all means let him know. He'll buy it back. Really. Though, he says, "No one has ever taken me up on the offer."

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