2011.05.25 Leaded crystal brain cells.

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.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.