Pat Shingleton: "Smog and Mush..."
In 1948, smog filled the Monongahahela Valley in western Pennsylvania. Damaging oxides of nitrogen, halogen acids, zinc and lead claimed 20 lives with 2,000 afflicted with respiratory disorders. Fog and industrial pollution created the worst episode of smog in London from January 5th through the 9th in 1952. Stagnant air over the four day period found sulfur dioxide and particulate concentrations reaching deadly levels. The smog was so thick that Londoners couldn't see their hands with outstretched arms, traffic stopped and only the blind could navigate. Close to 100,000 residents became sick as deaths from bronchitis and influenza increased ten times leaving 4,000 dead. Four years later, Parliament enacted the British Clean Air Bill as the burning of bituminous coal was banned. Should your travels ever send you to central Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area, a common Pennsylvania “entrée” is called scrapple. This morning you may be enjoying some hot oatmeal, grits, pancakes or waffles accompanied by a piping-hot cup of Community coffee to compete with the chill. My mother made another breakfast warmer called “mush” and could be similar to “couscous” - a combination of cornmeal and milk. Grandma Shirley would mix and boil a cornmeal recipe, pour it into a Pyrex dish or tray and refrigerate it. The next morning it was sliced into half-inch squares and fried. We then would smatter the hot mush with butter and syrup. With a hot mug of homemade cocoa, we were ready for the outdoor freeze.
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