The following conversation was between myself and a person very close to me. Identities are changed since they’d like to remain anonymous and I’d like to respect their wishes.
But make no mistake, it’s true that back in the day (read: 1960s), cleaning off the power plant’s coal ash that blanketed your home was as daily a chore as tidying up your room, or washing the dishes. Or doing your homework.
Myself: How often did y’all have to clean off the cars and sun porch from coal ash? Was that [coal ash] also from Duke Power?
Lucy: It was Duke Power. They would vent the [coal] ash at night if memory serves and if the wind was blowing in a certain direction there would be gray dust all over the screen porch that we would have to hose off. I can ask [Schroeder] about it. [They] may remember more than I do.
Myself: Good grief. How often did they do this?
Lucy: Don’t know. Fairly regularly I would guess, but cannot say with any authority.
Myself: So it wasn’t every week. Was the community trying to get them to stop?
Lucy: I don’t think so. I think that’s just the way business was conducted at the time. For a bit of perspective- we moved into the house on […] in the fall of 1966. Environmental issues did not begin to come to the forefront until the first Earth Day in 1970. I was a sophomore in high school at the time.
Myself: Did Earth Day have a big impact or was it more of a curiosity? What did [Linus] and [Snoopy] think of it?
Lucy: [Linus] just got tired of having to clean ash off the porch. [They] would get the hose and wash off the cement floor and then shoot the water [from the hose] through the screens to wash them off. Then we’d wipe down the furniture that was out there [on the porch]. Not sure about Earth Day. To the high school students it was new and exciting and we got out of class to go around town picking up trash and cleaning up stuff.
Myself: That’s cool. Did that happen every year?
Lucy: I think it did happen every year for a while. Don’t know what happened after I graduated.
Coal ash is pretty toxic. And this conversation only covers the air. I haven’t begun to ask them about the waterways they were drinking from that would also have been highly affected by the toxic coal ash.
Copyright Off The Porch History 2021. Don’t reproduce without permission. Lucy wouldn’t like it.