On April 22nd of 1970, this writer was in a Boy Scout troop that took part in Earth Day I. We were assigned a stretch of road south of town that ran through an industrial park. We climbed into the drainage ditches and threw out all kinds of crap that had been accumulating therein for who-knows-how-many years: appliances, tires, plastic, bits of rusty metal, and cans of noxious chemicals, many of them leaking.

Yes, a bunch of teenagers stood in toxic waste for an entire day. We felt good about it, doing our bit. Back then it was a new thought for most people: ecology and all that. Our country (and most others) knew about pollution, saw the fish kills, smelled the stenches, but the idea of individuals doing something about it? Naaah.

Back then, people drained their antifreeze onto their dirt driveways to keep the dust down. They poured used motor oil into drainage ditches and lit up to keep the weeds down. Industrial areas stank. And that was normal.

Yes, a bunch of teenagers stood in toxic waste for a day. Hard though it may be to believe today, people in the 60’s were surprisingly ignorant. You got your news from a few print sources and a couple or three TV channels, and if you missed the news you were out of luck until the next broadcast. Ignorance was easy back then. We didn’t even know we were standing in toxic waste.

Today, you won’t find kids in standing in sludge without knowing it. Today, people rarely do many of the things that were done before Earth Day helped to spread the word and raise awareness. We have learned a lot since then.

Yes, we stood in toxic waste for a day. It woke us up. It woke millions of people up. And there are those among us (Cruz, Koch, Boehner and many more) who would have us all go back to sleep.

Stay awake.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky