By Sherry Pasquarello,WWH/CJE – I’ve always had a thing about snow after it’s been on the ground for a few days and how really dirty and depressing it is for me. The yard snow is bad enough but the plowed edges of the roads and the heaps shoved into mountains in parking lots are the worst. That coupled with Pittsburgh’s famously grey winter sky is enough to make me want to stay in my bed until spring.
I have to say, when I was a child it was much worse. Oh, I loved snow when I was small and I didn’t have to shovel it, only play in it. I didn’t notice the downside of snow as much. As I got older I noticed the dirty snow. In fact, the closer to the city the dirtier the snow was. Just as I could spend a day downtown and wipe a thin film of grime from my face with a tissue, the pollution settled like a toxic gauze over everything. It was the burgh in the 50s and 60s. We were steel and coal and little pollution control. Every old house in the small towns dotting the rivers had coal dust in the walls from the era of using coal for heat. It was a tricky business to remodel a house. We here never knew just what might come falling out of a wall or ceiling. I’ve been there and done that. Who knows what any of us breathed in over the years as we updated our century old homes.
That got me thinking about just how much has changed for the better because of the efforts and laws passed to make the water we drink and the air that we breathe cleaner and healthier. Now, there are millionaire and billionaire business moguls that are trying to bring us back to the bad old days and using the economy and lack of jobs as a nasty little fear tactic to do it. They demonized unions and tanked the economy and now they want to gut pollution laws and rid us of minimum wage and overtime as a requirement for bringing our jobs back from countries that have little or none at all.
They have the option of living somewhere other than the polluted cities and towns they would create in exchange for jobs. The owners always have had that option. I think everyone should read at least one of the excellent books on the Johnstown Flood that are readily available. You’ll see just how and why that flood happened. Look at some of the photos from around that period. Check out the gulf between the standard of living of the two classes. Class warfare, a fiction today? Do some reading.
Me? I came to be at the end of the dirt and the beginning of the cleanup. Maybe that’s why I have such a visceral reaction to the filthy grey and black piles of snow. I recall what used to be as I grew up and I’m afraid of what my grandchild might be subjected to in years to come.
The grey skies, well, that’s the burgh just as rain is Seattle. Pollution? That IS something we can do something about.