June 25, 2007 | 3:19 pm
I remember well the Paul Coates program on TV, Channel 11, when it was owned by The Times. Never understood anything he was talking about when he was on, but I remember the stark blackness of the set behind him.
I was born on a rainy February morning in 1950 in old Methodist Hospital downtown, on the 50th anniversary of Adlai Stevenson's birth, also in LA. Throughout the '50s, 60s and 70s, lived in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance (I walked to kindergarten and 1st grade on a dirt road bordered by tall eucalyptus and pastureland where we kids would slip thru the barbed wire fence to taunt the bulls hanging with the cows---yes, Torrance, CA 1955-57), Buena Park, La Sierra, Riverside, West Covina, Upland, Palm Springs, Panorama City, Simi Valley, Westwood (UCLA, History, 1972), then lit out for literally greener pastures in the late '70s to New England, Mass, NH and Vt, where I live now. I visit L.A. occasionally, see no difference in the traffic flow (I always knew what time of day to take certain roads to zip thru traffic) and much less smog today---and the place looks cleaner, shinier even, and always try to coincide my trips with a game or two at Dodger Stadium.
What prompted me to write is your story on the dismantlement of the backyard incinerators. I remember very clearly this first step in smog reduction. As a 7 yr old in '57 i paid little attention to smog, other than how it stung and made my eyes water, and remember the haste with which my dad went from getting a notice some official was coming to inspect the fact the incinerator in the backyard would be no more. This would be in Buena Park, where from the summer of '57 to '61 i enjoyed, no, deeply fondly loved the best 4 years of my childhood, as my friends and I would play with the horney toads which populated the looong-gone orange groves a couple of blocks away, and every Saturday morning I would walk to Knott's Berry Farm, when entrance was free and it was a quiet, wonderfully smelling place, of eucalyptus (again) and boysenberry, to stroll around in the ersatz-but-real Huck Finn environment, and jump the tracks and dodge the old steam train as it would chug by.
Anyway, I remember my dad burning stuff, paper and dry tree limbs, in the little cement incinerator for the last time before the official came to verify the thing was laid flat, the four sides of the object left lying where it stayed for years, and the talk that this would reduce the smog. It did, but little did we know the magnitude of the problem from cars.
Nothing exciting, really, just another fond little memory you piqued from my childhood. ~ Craig Hill / Montpelier Vt