Dick Goddard is a Cleveland institution, and after 50 years on television, he goes to work every day on a street named for him: Dick Goddard Way.
“Have you seen that section of South Marginal Road? It would make the Ho Chi Minh Trail look like the Autobahn,” says Goddard, whose self-deprecating sense of humor is one of his trademarks.
May marked the release of a new book, Goddard’s eighth, titled Six Inches of Partly Cloudy, the proceeds of which will benefit animal charities. In it, Goddard describes his life and career, muses on everything from God to global warming, and allows old friends like Robin Swoboda and Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson to dish about Dick, sharing what it’s like to know — to really know — the man with whom we’ve shared our living rooms for just over 50 years.
There are viewer stories and old photographs, hand-drawn cartoons by Goddard himself (who once dreamed of working for Disney) and, of course, margin quotes about Goddard’s favorite furry friends. In essence, the book tells us everything we already knew — that Dick Goddard is the nicest man in Cleveland — but after 50 faithful years in a city that’s often stumbling, it’s a message that bears repeating.
Six Inches of Partly Cloudy has plenty of newsroom stories from Tim Taylor and “Big Chuck” Schodowski, but it goes beyond weather and woolly bears. In chapters on war and religion, Goddard stands to step on a few toes, but he does so with considerable grace and, as always, kindness.
“I’m just trying to be truthful. My parents never got through the fourth grade but they had common sense and reason that trumps any certificate. Everybody believes they know the truth, but I’m not sure I know the truth. I just think I have a little better grasp on it than some people,” Goddard said.
In one of the most telling moments of the book, former executive producer of news at Channel 8, Joe Benny, recounts how one night Goddard was missing for almost the entire news cast. When he finally turned up, he confessed that he had found a spider in the news room and missed the broadcast because, instead of killing it, he carried it to the field behind the station and let it go.
Says Goddard in Six Inches …, “I believe … that the only reason any of us have for living is to make life less difficult for others. My religion is to be generous, be honest, be caring, be compassionate, and to be loving to all things.”
Stories like these reveal who Dick Goddard is when no one is watching. They are emblematic of the kind of reassuring persona that Goddard delivers so well because his warmth — that patented Goddard nice — isn’t an act.
It’s the Dick Goddard way. — Lydia Munnell
Six Inches of Partly Cloudy ($12.95) is published by Gray & Company and is available at Discount Drug Mart stores and online at Amazon.com. Click here to read a free sample of the book.