Pat Shingleton: "Smog and Gramps"
There are ninety-eight areas in the United States, including the Baton Rouge area, that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone. Ground level ozone is a primary constituent of smog. The term smog was first coined by a British meteorologist in 1905 to describe the combination of smoke and fog.The Big Smog of Donora lasted for nearly a week from October 25 through October 31, 1948. It settled over a section of the Monongahela Valley near Donora in southwestern Pennsylvania and was caused by emissions from factories and automobile exhausts. Smog, now referred to as Ozone, is composed of damaging chemicals such as oxides of nitrogen, halogen acids, zinc, lead, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. After the Donora Smog blew away, 20 people died with 2,000 afflicted with respiratory and circulatory disorders. Hundreds experienced nausea and eye and throat irritations. In closing, our grandfather, Bert Price, lived with us. A man of simple means, intrigued with farm equipment, he never obtained a driver’s license and did the majority of his transportation on foot. After his retirement as a railroad switchman, he provided a variety of services throughout the neighborhood. When weeds needed clearing from a steep embankment, Bert got the call. The embankment angle was too steep for lawn mowers, so he used a sickle and scythe. The scythe had a four foot curved cutting blade, attached to a long handle, held with both hands. Long slow swipes cleared the weeds. For narrow areas, the hand-held sickle was effective. Both were kept sharp with a wet-stone. When Briggs and Stratton mowers were compromised by rain, Bert stayed on the job without consequence.