Friday, December 10, 2010

Little Piece of History

Found this neat Mercury Capsule bank at an antique mall this week. I have to say, it is pretty rare when I find a manned spaceflight bank I have never seen before (I have far more than on that website...)! It is pretty thick plaster and has the original cork on the bottom. I thought I had found a little piece of NASA history - but instead I find that I found a pretty major piece of Houston history!

Minimal googling revealed that Texas National Bank was in Houston. The building was shared with Conoco and opened in October 17th, 1955. On top of this building was a weather ball - popular in the mid 50s - mid 60s. It could be seen at night from 25 miles.

Most people erroneously think that Conoco sign on Houston's weather ball came later. But from this Aug 22, 1955 Life magazine clipping, the sign had two different sides upon inception in 1955. You can also see the Conoco side peeking through from the backside in this photo.

Weather balls were fairly popular at the time (providing an alternate way to get your forecast) and they all seemed to use the same jingle. When the ball was glowing red warmer weather was just ahead, when shinning white colder weather was in sight, when wearing green no change was foreseen, colors blinking light and day precipitation was on its way.

Houston's was dismantled in 1964 as a result of complaints and found its way to the entry fountain at Astroworld. In 1994 (shortly after Time Warner bought half of Six Flags), the globe was removed from the fountain. In 1995 it had been located in Astroworld storage. I am researching if it was auctioned off during the Astroworld auctions after the park closed in 2005. Stay tuned for an update!

Great video on the fate of the Northwestern Bank weather ball in Minnesota

Do you know where Houston's Weather Ball is???