Sunday, September 20, 2009

Smog 1950


SMOG 1950

In my recollection
It was much worse than this!
I don't recall its coming.
One moment the air was clear;
The next we were enveloped
In a sticky yellow blanket!
Black. Yellow. And sticky.
Why yellow?
They said it was sulphur,
It certainly smelt like it!
It certainly tasted like it!
Clean Air was a long way off.
I have several clear memories
Of that unusual event;
The Great Smog of 1950.
I remember going to a dance
At the Kensington Town Hall.
Males and females sat
At opposite sides of the ballroom.
The 'ladies' waited to be 'asked.'
Only, on this occasion,
(And we were inside a building, remember!)
There was fog drifting between us.
I can smell it now,
I can taste it now.
And I can see it clouding the electric lights!
I can also remember trying to find my way home.
I couldn't even find the kerb!
I had to feel with my toes
For the edge of the pavement!
And great black bodies kept looming up
Right in front of me!
'I couldn't see my hand before my face'!
Not just a glib saying,
But a reality!
I recall hearing about the sheep.
There was an Agricultural Show
In progress.
Thousands of sheep died!
Finally, I remember the aftermath.
How the smell and taste lingered for weeks.
How all ones clothes were
Tinged with a yellowish grey.
How the 'fog' hung around in ones nose and ears
'For ever'.
It was a curse.
Yet it was a blessing.
Finally, London became
A more lovely version of the same thing here:


Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

May be all the snakes died too. That's what the Chinese believe. Surphur repells snakes.

Anonymous said...

oof.. mixed emotions as i comment. ur poem had it all, sadness of death, anxiety of that dance.. the curse and blessing together..

wonderful writeup! the picture was nice too!

Jinksy said...

I remember my husband to be driving us to London to visit friends of his one day. The dreaded yellow peril descended while we were there, and driving home became a nightmare. We drove at a snail's pace, following kerbs as far as possible, with me hanging out of a window to give updates of anything that hove into view. I was violently sick at the end of this little escapade, and thanked my lucky stars for livng in the clean air of the South Coast.

SandyCarlson said...

That must have been quite an experience--and a bit of a horror until it was over. I could see this drama in the ballroom, too.

Anonymous said...

Yellow...Sulphur smog..that would have been awful! Thank You for sharing, am glad we have the luxury of fresh air now,though its a concern the way its heading.

geraldgee said...

I well remember that smog,or some of it as it very nearly killed me.Even inside our house it was there.
But it had beauty outside in the streets with its yellow light.

Maggie said...

I felt like getting a drink of water to clear my throat after reading this story about the fog you experienced.

I recall in the 50`s when my husband was driving our family from Texas to Georgia and as we passed through a part of LA...we ran into a grey fog which was so thick I felt it would almost have taken a knife to cut through it.

I wanted my husband to stop and get off the road but the vision was so bad that he could see no place to get off the road and he said if he stopped then any cars behind us would run into us because they could not see any better than we could.

I was so thnkful it was not for too great a distance.

Anonymous said...

your poem captures the horror of the moment so well..

i was beautifully entertained!


Andree said...

wow, what a time that was. A lot of people must have died from inability to breath. What a nightmare! You wrote about it so well that I, too, had problems breathing during my reading.

Jim said...

Brenda, I had forgotten about this! Thank you. It was not pleasant is it?
Ours was in El Paso, Texas, in the 50's. We lived on the side of the mountain where we could see down onto the city.
Most every still morning a yellow haze blotted out the buildings from us. It went for miles.
Now of course, legislation has made the refineries have clean emissions.
Lately I have been playing with rhymes, this doggy foggy blog writer one of mine seemed a natural.

Tumblewords: said...

Clean air is a profound pleasure! I cannot imagine sulphur fog. Arggh. As always, a fine read.

Amias (ljm and liquidplastic) said...

I remember reading about this when I was a child. Many places had the same fog --- most called it a cleansing. I never really understood it, and still don't to this day.

Clear air, like the smell of fresh dirt after a summer rain .. ahhh at least I can relate to that.

Margaret Gosden said...

I vaguely remember that day! And other days, too.
Thank you for the recollection, and, yes, looking back, really bad events do often lead to improvement, if only the politicians would stop talking and do something about global warming!

gabrielle said...

the yellow smog palpable. My throat caught reading this.

London may have learned its lesson, but will we?