I’m overweight, ugly, my joints hurt, my hair has turned gray, my soldier doesn’t salute very often, my eyesight and hearing are getting worse, and I think I know why – DDT!
“The Buzz Bomb is coming!” came the call down the street and ten to fifteen kids hit their front doors, grabbed their bikes, and headed out to meet the weekly tour of the neighborhood by the city DDT spraying Jeep. We called it the “Buzz Bomb”, not knowing that it did sort of sound like the WWII flying bombs Germany sent in from France to terrorize England, but because of the weird guttural sound it made as it slowly moved down Fairground Drive in Waverly, Tennessee.
We formed up on the side of the street as it came by and then charged into the white dense cloud about 100 feet behind the Jeep, holding our breath for as long as we could. You see, as long as you didn’t breathe it, it couldn’t hurt you. Getting it on your skin, in your eyes, and on your clothes did not matter. It had to get inside your lungs or mouth before it could hurt you was the myth we believed.
I was always toward the front, racing with one or two others to see who could get up the closest to the nozzle of the buzzing bomb, see the flicker of the fire inside the nozzle where the mixture was ignited and discharged, without running out of air and having to dart to the side for a clear breath of air. If you darted out too soon, you lost the contest.
Often times, two or more of us ran into each other and piled up in the middle of the street, shouting obscenities at each other, and…breathing!
All the while, the driver was oblivious that the neighborhood children were following him as if he were the Good Humor or snow cone man. The cloud came out in a narrow dense stream about 6 inches wide for about 18 inches before expanding the width of the street and rising some 50 feet into the night air. It was impossible to see through the fog until the Jeep was some quarter of a mile down the street. It slowly expanded and dissipated into a fine mist that floated throughout the neighborhood.
The driver was actually one of many Pied Pipers that roamed neighborhoods in the 50s, 60s, and up until the DDT ban in 1973. Kids could not resist chasing the buzzing sound and bellowing white smoke, and parents only warned us not to breathe.
So, that’s what’s wrong with me today, course it’s taken it 60 years to work on my body, to break it down and to get me to this awful state. I know my symptoms sound a lot like old age, but I know differently – it was the DDT mixed with the Agent Orange I came in contact with in Vietnam, and yes, maybe combined with a little passing of time that did the real damage.
There is a push on today to bring DDT back and I think we should all unite and beat down this notion. If we don’t, many more people are going to get old like me.
STOP THE BUZZ BOMB!