2011.05.25 Leaded crystal brain cells.

Written by David Green.

Busy times call for history to repeat itself. Here's a column from the summer of 1991.

by David Green

Our front porch is getting yellower, but our brains are growing heavier.

I think we started our paint-scraping project on the porch last summer. We never got too far because we kept forgetting where we put the scraper.

Underneath the flaking white exterior is a rather durable layer of yellow. Actually, there are several layers involved, but scraping usually ends at yellow. Occasionally, we burrow to a deeper strata of gray.

Anyone coming onto our porch—and wading through the toys and shoes to reach one of the two doorbells that never worked—is faced with a lot of yellow blotches showing through. If visitors managed to get our attention, they at least found some fairly intelligent people inside the door—up until this summer when we all got dumb.

The problem is the paint dust we made from all that scraping. That old paint contains lead. We breathed the dust. Now we’re just another statistic in the U.S. Public Health Service files.

We were too dumb to know about the problem ahead of time. Now we’re too dumb to really understand it. We’ve all got lead in our brains.

Everybody knows about the ghetto kids eating paint chips and getting dumb. Now Newsweek magazine says anybody can get dumb—without even eating the stuff. Public health officials are now calling lead the No. 1 environmental threat to children. Lead-poisoned kids are not as smart as they were born to be.

Nothing to joke about, you say? Of course not. I’ve suffered on that porch through hours of 95º afternoons only to poison my family with a job that’s but half done. It’s nothing to joke about, but it certainly does explain a few things.

• Maddy runs into the house yelling, “Mom, where are you? Where are you?”

She hears the neighbors dog barking and she runs to the window and says, “Mitzie is barfing!”

• I asked Rosanna what she and her friend were going to do.

“We’re going to climb the wall and fall down,” she said. And they did.

• Ben came in hurt Saturday morning after he had an accident with his sister’s bike. The dummy had the handlebars turned around backwards.

I  know I shouldn’t call him a dummy, but lead has damaged his brain. He’s not the same kid anymore. Before Scraping, he never would have considered bringing home an old car battery from a neighbor’s curb. But he did it Saturday. He brought it home on the back of a Big Wheel. He even turned it over to see what was inside.

• Maddy runs naked outside, but she’s usually dressed inside. According to her sister, she’s begun to remove items from her nose and transfer them to her mouth. Nobody in their right mind...

Both sisters are having trouble breathing and walking at the same time and they have the scraped knees and faces to prove it.

Lead from paint dust affects children the most, says Newsweek, but adults don’t escape entirely. Take Colleen, for example. She’s been burning a lot of pancakes lately, and she’s often observed charging through a room with an addled look on her face, saying, “My brain, my brain!” She’s done a lot of scraping.

And me? I was stupid enough to walk barefoot across an open stamp pad the other night on the dark bathroom floor. Silly me. And last week in “Morenci Decades” I wrote that Dr. Keith Whitehouse retired 10 years ago. Dummy! It was only his 35th anniversary in 1991.

But mostly I just sit around staring vacantly out the window with a stupid look on my face. You know, like when the UFO guys come and talk to you and then every day after that your head snaps to the left every five minutes or so. You what know I mean. I’m so confused. I just wonder where I’m going to get the money for vinyl siding.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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